“I am not a violent man, but I did once swing a lead pipe at someone.”
So says Tyler Magill, a former parking lot attendant, who is interviewed in Meghan Eckman’s documentary, The Parking Lot Movie, which simply depicts a group of eccentric parking lot attendants at work (if you can call it work). Magill’s explanation for this action is that his victim refused to pay a forty cent parking fee. Fortunately, this is not the usual way of handling these situations; however, the quote does embody the attitudes of all of his fellow attendants, who range in age from eighteen to mid-thirties. Some of them have been at the lot for ten years and some are brand new, but they all agree that the job is interesting and fun. They acknowledge the poor reputation of their title, they say they are being paid to do almost nothing, and they exalt the activity as one of the most worth-while things they will ever do.
From the attendants’ enthusiasm for their work and bitter complaints about the lot’s winy customers flows a refreshing stream of dry humor that delivers an infectious kind of happiness to the audience. Parking lots are usually fairly boring places, but the attendants’ funny rituals and verbal spars with customers are considerably entertaining. In addition, we are shown the duties, habits, pastimes, and philosophies of the employees, filmed in Office-like fashion. By the end, I felt like I had actually met them, which is an essential quality in any worthwhile documentary.
The one significant flaw of the movie lies at the very beginning: it starts off too slow. Nonetheless, once it begins to build speed around the fifteen minute mark, it never slows down. One could also easily label this film as pointless, but clocking in at an hour and fifteen minutes, it cannot be said that it is necessarily a waste of time. The Parking Lot Movie might be a seemingly insignificant, low-budget indie documentary, but it is still worth the price of admission.