Pucker Up

Pucker Up


Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

"Whistling is an unmistakable sign of the moron" - Dr. Charles Gray

Now, here's a queer thing - a competitive whistling documentary from Louisburg, North Carolina. And, no, it's not a bad film at all, competently staged, edited and directed. It delves deeply into the art and science of whistling, "the first musical instrument," lauds nearly everyone who waxes philosophical on the subject. We learn of whistling schools, books - "Artistic Whistling" by Agus Woodward, amongst others. The science is judiciously researched, with anatomical diagrams and tech-porn, like live X-rays detailing just where the "perfect sine wave" of a human whistle is formed in the mouth.

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For me, the real problem with Pucker Up is that I cared less before seeing the film and no more on walking out. Nothing engaged me on a human level; the facts and figures spouted throughout meant little as a plot enhancer. The threadbare story follows a motley group as they enter the competition at the International Whistling Convention. Tom, a performance artist, worries about losing his "puculatory prowess" to asthma. Some amusement can be gleaned at watching grown men and women whistle astonishingly complicated tunes and ditties and there's a delightfully daft moment when a conductor attempts to keep an orchestra of whistlers in tune to Beethoven.

Even less interesting diversions include films that incorporate whistling - Snow White's Heigh Ho! (curiously they ignore the magical Whistle While You Work), Fritz Lang's great M and an over-long Python tribute. A digression on a history of cultures, which use whistling as communication, and a bunch whining about generational gaps, stating flatly that youngsters don't entertain themselves anymore, feel like what they are - fill fodder.

Having followed these people through the competition, we get to know them, pick our favourites and smile/groan as they get through, or not - standard sports documentary, with rare sidetracks into the humorous. It's hard to recommend, really, unless you enjoy hearing classics, such as Cavalleria Rusticana: Intermezzo, being murdered.

Reviewed on: 21 Aug 2005
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A competitive whistling documentary from Louisburg, North Carolina.
Amazon link

Director: Kate Davis, David Heilbroner

Year: 2005

Runtime: 78 minutes

Country: US


EIFF 2005

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