Biker Fox Review

By Asher Gelzer Govatos


Biker Fox (2010)

Director: Jeremy Lamberton
Country: USA
Genre: Documentary | Comedy | Drama
Official Site: Here

Editor’s Notes: Biker Fox premiered on Video on Demand on April 14th.

Most large cities have a few public eccentrics, people who catch the attention of the populace with their very visible displays of oddity. Here in Tulsa, our most famous hometown weirdo is Biker Fox, a middle aged man who rides around the city barking at passers by about fitness. As strange and off putting as his behavior can be, many Tulsans take pride in Biker Fox as a symbol of our city’s independent, Okie spirit. Unfortunately the new documentary Biker Fox does little to illuminate just what makes Biker Fox so special and appealing.

Unfortunately the new documentary Biker Fox does little to illuminate just what makes Biker Fox so special and appealing.

Before he became the legend, Biker Fox was a mere man - an overweight, unhappy man, to be precise. Then he discovered the magic of cycling, got in shape, and decided to dedicate his life to spreading the joy of healthy living. Though he works a day job running a company that specializes in hard to find parts for classic muscle cars, his real mission in life lies in convincing people that fast food poisons their bodies, biking will restore their youth, and that they should get out in nature. This he accomplishes by biking around town, yelling at people in his hoarse, commanding voice, and posting videos of himself trying (and mostly failing) to do a front flip off his bike.


Biker Fox sticks to a fly on the wall approach to documenting its main character. It follows Fox as he makes business deals - or, more often, does not make them, as he spends his time berating customers for wasting his time. He bikes around town at all hours. He “befriends” a pack of wild raccoons, feeding them and even letting them have free rein in his house. And he spends a great deal of time talking directly to the camera, lecturing his audience on everything from how to sleep (block out ALL the light and have no way to check the time) to diet (he’s obsessed with baked fish) to life philosophy (love everyone). Biker Fox has an engaging personality, an intensity mixed with youthful naivety, that makes much of this footage entertaining to watch. The shots of Biker Fox interacting with raccoons are extra great, especially a scene where he gets repeatedly bitten yet keeps sticking his hand out to feed them.

Despite an abundance of great footage, Biker Fox feels like much, much less than the sum of its parts. It’s one thing to try to let a film develop naturally, and another entirely to have no vision for what a film should be.

Despite an abundance of great footage, Biker Fox feels like much, much less than the sum of its parts. It’s one thing to try to let a film develop naturally, and another entirely to have no vision for what a film should be. Biker Fox feels like the latter sort of film; sorely lacking in purpose or direction, it just sort of sits there riffing on the same one or two notes again and again. The film cycles through its various types of footage seemingly at random, and the result fails to illuminate much of anything about the man it seeks to understand.

Part of the problem lies with Biker Fox himself. A consummate showman, he mugs for the camera but never lets down his guard. What you see is what you get with him, and what the audience sees at all times in the film is clearly an act designed to entertain. Even his outbursts of anger come across as scripted; the scenes where he berates customers usually feature him doing exaggerated pantomime to the camera to show his disgust. This constant barrier to the real Biker Fox means that the film has little illumination to offer on what makes the man tick, beyond the vaguest of platitudes he himself offers.

A recalcitrant subject does not need to doom a documentary, though. For a recent example, see Errol Morris’ brilliant The Unknown Known, where the filmmaker uses the reluctance and foxy wiles of Donald Rumsfeld to his advantage, crafting a film that turns into a meta-analysis on language and truth. Even devoid of personal revelations, Biker Fox could have been an interesting film by focusing on any number of other subjects. In particular one element that gets touched on but never explored with any real depth is Biker Fox’s strained relationship with the police and city management. Beloved by former mayor Bill LaFortune (who acts as legal counsel for the often-in-trouble man), Biker Fox has a less cheery relationship with the current administration. He incurs many tickets for minor violations, and even gets arrested over the course of the film. To what extent is his treatment at the hands of the police justifiable, and to what extent is it unmerited harassment? Do they come after him because he is a danger to others, or because he is an easy target? Though the film lets Biker Fox himself rant about these issues, it does not press them to get underneath to the reality.

Biker Fox does feature some pretty neat cinematography. There is plenty of footage of him hitting the streets on his bike, capturing footage with a camera attached to his helmet - these make for enlivening, if occasionally nauseating, forays into the wild. And the film has a few cool nighttime shots where the camera captures a time lapse as events happen (from Biker Fox sleeping to raccoons swarming for food). If only the film were as inventive and clear in its structure as its content, it might have ended up being a success instead of a promising disappointment.

50/100 ~ MEDIOCRE. Despite great moments, Biker Fox fails to capture the true magic of its eponymous eccentric.
Asher Gelzer-Govatos fell in love with film in high school, where the one two punch of Lawrence of Arabia and The Third Man opened his eyes to the beauty of the filmed image. Asher is the founder and editor of The Erstwhile Philistine, a culture site. He teaches history (including film history) at a charter high school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he lives with his family.