Movie Review

I don’t pretend to know much about Werner Herzog, the acclaimed director of 46 films most people have never heard of, but I do know that “Incident at Loch Ness,” which Herzog produced and appears in, is brilliant. You don’t have to know anything about Herzog to enjoy this movie. It’s smart, funny and shocking.

It’s exhilarating to see a movie that is intelligent, inventive and fun but be careful — as Herzog likes to say, fact and truth are not always the same thing.

“Incident at Loch Ness,” directed by Zak Penn, is the story of Herzog’s attempt at making a documentary — with Penn as producer — about Scotland’s infamous Loch Ness monster. That movie was going to be “Enigma at Loch Ness.”

At the time Herzog began production, a camera crew led by John Bailey was also following him for its own documentary on the director. Unfortunately, “Enigma at Loch Ness” came to an abrupt end after a boating accident early in the filming and some unexplained and frightening incidents that drove the cinematographer and soundman to abscond in the middle of the night.

Because Bailey’s crew had been on the scene they were able to combine their footage with that of the ill-fated “Enigma at Loch Ness” to make “Incident at Loch Ness.” This final product is “Lost in LaMancha” meets “Adaptation,” or maybe “Altamont.”

Penn becomes the man you love to hate — and not just because he wrote such box office bombs as “Last Action Hero” and “Inspector Gadget.” The bald-faced efforts by this bald-headed producer to spice up Herzog’s film are hilarious and infuriating at the same time. Granted, nothing is as it seems in “Incident at Loch Ness,” but Penn would still be wise to watch his back, even as he’s taking well-deserved bows for this, his directorial debut.

– Carolyn Rummel