Review: Feels Good Man is probably the most essential documentary of 2020

  • 09/10/2020

The true story of Pepe the Frog makes for an incredible documentary and easily one of the best films of 2020.

It achieves a few things I really like in a doco:

  • It's an unbelievable, crazier than fiction story
  • It's a very specific, unique story centred around one person's journey and yet...
  • It's enormously insightful about culture, society and the modern world. 

Feels Good Man is also just really well told, with great animation and a stellar range of astute interviewees.

Pepe the Frog was created by Matt Furie as a character in his comic Boy's Club, which is a light comedy about slacker roommates drawn as animals - one of them being Pepe.

But thanks to the random, insane nature of the internet, Pepe was adopted as a central symbol of some of the world's worst people on forums like 8chan and 4chan. Y'know, the sort of people who inspire, carry out and then celebrate mass shootings, organise harassment campaigns and propagate racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny and so forth.

Pepe the Frog doco Feels Good Man poster art.
Feels Good Man poster art. Photo credit: Matt Furie / Ready Fictions

Pepe was subsequently officially classified as a hate symbol in the US, making it similar to a Nazi swastika or ISIS flag.

Of course, Pepe doesn't represent a hate symbol to everyone who uses him - least of all naive, chilled out, good-natured Matt Furie. He's the main subject of this film and his story is frequently tragic yet also weirdly uplifting.

But Pepe's story is bigger than Matt's and how that's explained by the other interviewees is even more fascinating.

It does a great job of explaining why much of the world is the way it is right now. I mean, things are completely, unbelievably crazy out there, right?

This impossible story of an iconic stoner frog encapsulates it all remarkably well and is a strong contender for most essential documentary of the year.

* Feels Good Man will be released in New Zealand via streaming service DocPlay later this month