‘Moby Doc’ Review: He Understands How He’s an Unlikely Pop Star

In “Moby Doc,” animation, staged dream sequences, skits and archival footage form a portrait of the title artist, the musician Moby. While the credited director is Robert Gordon Bralver, the movie is clearly a late-life self-realization project for Moby himself.

Small of frame and short of hair, Moby understands the ways in which he’s an unlikely pop star. Boy, does he ever. His presentation is a textbook example of the art of self-aggrandizement through affected self-effacement.

He narrates the film, sometimes onscreen, speaking into a phone as if he’s having a conversation. The text (written by Moby with the director) could have used an editor. Here’s a passage: “My father worked in the chemistry department at Columbia University and he brought home some test rats. They were in their twenties, they were in New York and they hung out in the Village and they talked about poetry and politics.” Wait — the rats?

What Moby leaves out of his account is as revealing as the tales of homelessness and addiction he puts in. Sampling is a hallmark of electronic dance music, and many songs on his blockbuster album “Play” were constructed around bits lifted from the work of African American musicians. You’d be hard pressed to learn much about that from this documentary.

Indeed, other musicians come up only to convey Moby’s sense of cool, as in when he sports an Agnostic Front T-shirt, or spends a few minutes remembering his friendship with David Bowie. He also speaks of “dating” movie stars, but prudently does not say the name of the one movie star who publicly stated that no, she didn’t date him, after he mentioned her in his print memoir.

“Like all people with timid personalities, his arrogance is unlimited,” Orson Welles once said of Woody Allen. Ditto with this guy.

Moby Doc
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.

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