Combustible Celluloid Review - Mad Props (2024), Juan Pablo Reinoso, Juan Pablo Reinoso, Tom Biolchini, Mickey Rourke, Robert Englund, Lance Henriksen, Ryan J. Condal, Alec Gillis, Juan Pablo Reinoso, Danny Boy O'Connor, Tom Biolchini, Thomas Forrester, Doug DeJanette, Jess Biolchini, Arturo Reyes
Combustible Celluloid
 
With: Tom Biolchini, Mickey Rourke, Robert Englund, Lance Henriksen, Ryan J. Condal, Alec Gillis, Juan Pablo Reinoso, Danny Boy O'Connor, Tom Biolchini, Thomas Forrester, Doug DeJanette, Jess Biolchini, Arturo Reyes
Written by: Juan Pablo Reinoso
Directed by: Juan Pablo Reinoso
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 89
Date: 02/23/2024
IMDB

Mad Props (2024)

3 Stars (out of 4)

That's the Stuff

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Flawed but fun, Juan Pablo Reinoso's documentary Mad Props, on movie prop collecting, doesn't have much of a thesis, and it lacks consideration for people with limited means, but it's filled with joy and a love for movies.

Tom Biolchini is an enthusiastic collector of props, looking forward to his next auction in which he hopes to buy the Sports Almanac from Back to the Future Part II and the Holy Grail from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He wonders what it is that drives prop collectors like himself to devote so much time and money to the hobby, and goes on a quest to meet some of them.

He chats with a collector of Scream memorabilia, visits the Prop Store in London, drops by the Outsiders house/museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and travels to the Cinema and Miniature Museum in Lyon, France. He sees spaceships, gremlins, a coat from Blade Runner, and many other treasures.

He eventually hangs out with special FX man Alec Gillis and actors Lance Henriksen and Robert Englund, reminiscing about Aliens and other movies. Biolchini concludes that props, once thrown away by studios, are an art form all by themselves, and collecting them offers a physical, tangible connection to the movies that moved us and inspired us.

As the host of Mad Props, Biolchini isn't terribly relatable, coming across as an upper-middle-class White guy, in good shape and with pocket money to burn, able to drop some $140-150,000 on a single item. (He considers himself a nerd, but he's not very nerdy.)

He asks the same handful of questions to everyone he meets and gets largely the same answers. We quickly determine that collecting props gives fans a physical connection to their favorite movies, the movies to which they have the strongest emotional connection. That's fine, but not really enough for a feature-length doc. (It perhaps could have gone deeper into the history of props, or talked a little bit more about the psychology of collecting and amassing things.)

The movie gets better when Biolchini encounters the special effects legend Alex Gillis (Aliens, Jumanji, Prey, etc.) and hangs out in his workshop along with actors Robert Englund and Lance Henriksen. We also get a glimpse of one of Rutger Hauer's outfits from Blade Runner, which spent decades languishing in an attic. And we see an oversize Gizmo from Gremlins, created specifically for close-ups.

By the time Mad Props gets to the closing credits — with a montage of Biolchini blurting out "no way!" every time he sees something new — we realize that we're all, to quote one of the collector's, "nerds of a feather."

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