We can always admire the story of an underdog; the individual no one gave a chance but they still found a way to beat the odds. In today’s society it is a lot easier to be get recognized and be spotlighted for your accomplishments or talents. Going back almost 50 years such feats were few and far between with it seeming more like an impossible dream. This was not the case for a young Herbert Khaury better known to the world as Tiny Tim. I simply associate the name from pop culture references and to me Tiny Tim was merely an odd looking person who sang in a high pitch voice that played the ukulele; an impression I am certain I am not alone with. His story however should be reveled as it shows what can come from true passion and persistence when no one is behind you.
Director Johan von Sydow’s film Tiny Tim: King for a Day presents one of the biggest underdog stories ever in someone that caught lighting in a bottle and I believe so rare if not for the time it took place in could ever be duplicated. The film is filled with these great eerily sketched animations that only add to the overall presentation and paints a very surreal picture of Tiny Tim’s mental/emotional state. The film pulls the curtain back from the enigma that was this musical oddity with interviews from family, friends, musical partners and his biographer. The latter of interviewees, Justin Martell, was also the inspiration for this film with his novel Eternal Troubadour: The Improbable Life Of Tiny Tim. However, the biggest impact I felt were by the diary passages narrated by ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic written by Tiny Tim. We get a true sense of what a young Herbert yearned for and that was to be a star at all costs; at a time where not even his parents showed any love or compassion. Considered a freak and an outcast Tim pursued relentlessly night after night playing shit gigs with the crowd not knowing what to make of his act. We are then witness to one of the greatest meteoric rises the entertainment industry has ever seen including a moment in time where his wedding on the Johnny Carson show was the second most seen television program only behind the moon landing.
By the end of the film I had more of an understanding of the person more than the act. A tortured soul that felt the weight of religion/God on his shoulders with the thought of everything crashing down around him giving him constant anxiety. Tiny Tim was something that was meant for that time period in the late 60s when everything was turned upside down. There was an innocence, a jovial attitude that was infectious for reasons you didn’t know and audiences/performers alike were helpless in getting hypnotized by this labeled “whacko” carrying a plastic bag that played the ukulele. He possessed a charm that was unattainable and special all onto itself or rather for lack of better words, you either got it or you didn’t. Regardless though of your perception for the man and/or artist you cannot help but give respect where it is most certainly due to someone who not only achieved their dream but shattered all expectations.
3.5 out of 5
The book the film was based from “Eternal Troubadour: The Improbable Life Of Tiny Tim” by Justin Martell can be found HERE
Follow the Film: