The Spalding Gray fans in the house know who they are. And since this film is really just for Spalding Gray fans, let's dispense with the throat clearing and exposition. (For those of you who aren't already fans of Gray, the storyteller who basically invented the solo show and from whose forehead sprang a fully formed Mike Daisey: Peep Swimming to Cambodia. Or just read it. The writing—about Gray's experience filming The Killing Fields in Thailand surrounded by hedonistic actors, prostitutes, lush jungles, and the world's strongest, most paranoid-making marijuana—is fantastic, some of the best memoir writing of the 20th century. Done? Presto, you're a Spalding Gray fan. Now please enjoy the rest of this review.)
And Everything Is Going Fine, assembled by director Steven Soderbergh, isn't a Gray monologue. It's a compilation—of the "rarities and B-sides" variety. Soderbergh has simply cut up and rearranged snippets of Gray monologues throughout his career. (Watching his haircut change over the years is half the fun/horror. Whoever suggested he let his hair grow into an oversize, bushy pageboy during the 1990s should be slapped.) Gray tells a few hitherto-unreleased stories, mostly about his upbringing: his mother's nervous breakdown, his father incompetently telling Spalding about the birds and the bees on a golf course, his first acting gigs.
Anyone looking for a startling, illuminating new Gray monologue will be disappointed. And anyone looking for even a smidgen of insight into Gray's suicide will be frustrated. And Everything Is Going Fine is a compilation of footnotes on a life and a career—footnotes that the faithful will devour ravenously. But nobody else will.