There have been dozens of film produced in the spirit of a biography, on the topic of dozens of different people. In each biography the person has either been admirable or the person has lost everything due to addictions like gambling, drugs or alcohol.
“Auto Focus” is the first film I have seen about the downfall of a sex addict. Seeing as this sex addict, Bob Crane of TV’s “Hogan’s Heroes,” does not smoke, drink or do drugs; he makes for the most boring life to ever come out of Hollywood.
It starts off very wholesomely. Bob Crane works as a radio personality in Southern California with a clean mouth and a clean record. His wife, played by Rita Wilson, starts become suspicious of Crane when she finds porno magazines in his garage, but Crane assures her they mean nothing. Then, with acquiring a role on television’s “Hogan’s Heroes,” Crane befriends John Carpenter, played by the huge talent, Willem Dafoe.
Crane’s clean-cut Christian life is thrown up side down after being invited to a strip club with Carpenter and this begins his obsession with sex. It seems harmless, but Carpenter and Crane return to Carpenter’s home with two girls and they both end up sleeping with them.
Soon Crane develops an eye for home movies and he and Carpenter decide to film themselves having sex … because if you are going to be cheating on your wife, by all means, create hard physical evidence of your infidelity. The numbers of women grow to the hundreds including women off his television show.
His wife discovers pictures of Crane practicing felatio with hundreds of women and divorces him, and then Crane spins out of control. He marries a woman who does not care if he cheats on her and then the movie fails to focus on anything except sex. It seems more like the premise for a porn film.
The script was horribly under-developed. This could not have been all there was to this man’s life, and if it was, then this was the most shallow and trite man to ever gain fame. There was not enough happening in his life to make a movie about it.
The acting, however, was incredible. Greg Kinnear does a great job at allowing you to despise Bob Crane, and Willem Dafoe just blows my mind at every performance he tackles. There could very well be Oscar nominations for one, if not both, of the leads. But as far as a story goes, this was atrocious. They could have made a better biography of a man by following around one of my roommates.
There is plenty of nudity, primarily breasts because that was Crane’s favorite, but it certainly does not stop there. His addiction is the most boring addiction since choco-holics. Jim Morrison was something of a sex addict, but at least he did drugs enough to make his movie highly interesting. Crane did not even have the guts to be mildly amusing.
I cannot give this a high grade. I am sure Ebert, Roper and other critics will, but I give it a C-. The acting could not save the poor subject matter and tedious life of Crane. I received his lethargic and anticlimactic murder more than I did his life, because him being killed meant the film was going to end. Skip this one. Do not rent it either. Save yourself the time and money.