Plot: The story of Joyce McKinney is one that seems too impossible to be true, but it all happened and in Tabloid, Errol Morris shines a light on the incredible events that she found herself in the middle of. A beauty queen and self professed genius, McKinney became a tabloid star after she was accused of kidnapping a Mormon, tying him to a bed, and trying to fuck the brainwashing out of his system. She had fallen in love with the man and didn’t understand the Mormon faith, so when he vanished one day, she did whatever he could to hunt him down and then abducted him, though her side of the story is much different than the reported events. In Tabloid, Joyce herself walks us through her take on her life and the “manacled Mormon” events, as well as the odd things that happened afterwards.
Entertainment Value: While Joyce McKinney’s view on the events of her life might not be the full truth, she is a dynamic and charismatic person who never hesitates to share her thoughts. Tabloid is more or less a stage for McKinney to perform on, as she recalls the details of several wild events in her life in vivid detail and in a style that is unique to her persona. She weaves her side of the stories in such a colorful, charismatic way, you want to believe her and it is clear she believes herself, but she also gives off such a wonderfully delusional vibe. McKinney is a one of kind person and she was surely involved in all these wild scenarios, but the movie also brings some other voices to provide an alternate view of what went down. While there is a gap between her side and the others at times, it never lessens the craziness involved and if anything, makes you wonder all the more what really happened.
Morris builds the entire movie around McKinney, as it should be since she is such a vivid, interesting subject. Her interview is the core of Tabloid and she has a lot to talk about, so she never slows down or resorts to less interesting moments, while also always engaging the audience with her charm and wacky presence. The other interviews are spliced in to provide some background or a different view on some events, but it never feels overly combative. Even those who challenge some of her claims seem enamored with her unusual persona and charms, with some humorous observations on their personal feelings toward her also included. This piece might lack the social resonance of some of Morris’ work, but Tabloid presents a dynamic, interesting person and tells a story that is almost too insane to believe. So while it might not be earth shattering stuff, Tabloid is a well made documentary that shines a light on a unique person and entertains us to no end in the process.