Feels Good Man
(USA, 93 min.)
Dir. Arthur Jones
Arthur Jones makes a blistering debut with this look at the man behind a meme. Matt Furie created Pepe the Frog as part of the slacker indie comic called Boy’s Club only to find his chill, cold-blooded creature morphed into a sensation in dank corners of the internet like 4chan. Eventually, this image of an affable amphibian became intertwined with the alt-right movement. He made cameos in presidential tweets and eventually landed on a list of hate symbols published by the Anti-Defamation League.
Jones’ colourful film mixes animation, compelling interviews, and some bewildering tangents that provide a unique glimpse into a fundamental icon of the internet age. Feels Good Man is one of those wonderful non-fiction works that one approaches assuming that the story has already been told, only to find more depth and insight as the layers are peeled away. At times heartbreaking, at times uplifting, it’s a profound look into a subject that by its very nature feels ephemeral. Shown in this light, Pepe proves to be a touchstone representation about what’s heartwarming, and what’s truly heart wrenching, in our interconnected global culture.
Originally reviewed at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.