The Rise & Fall of the Grumpy Burger
The Rise and Fall of the Grumpy Burger follows obsessive filmmaker Marshall Sfalcin as he attempts to make a movie about his family and their once legendary fast-food empire.
By day, Marshall -- a reluctant construction worker -- lays ceramic tiles in the kitchens and bathrooms of the citizens of Windsor, Ontario. But, by night, he escapes the monotony of his blue-collar life by making movies. His last project, Xeno’s Inferno, which he made with his eccentric brother – and partner in crime -- Christian, features a cast of Windsor’s finest exotic dancers and barflies. Part Ed Wood, part Russ Meyer, Marshall is a filmmaker whose projects reflect his rather unique way of seeing the world.
When it comes to making films, Marshall does everything himself: he raises the money, casts his friends and family, and shoots and edits on the cheap and dirty. This guy is resourceful and driven like no one else.
And now he’s poised to take on his greatest challenge yet: making his first “legitimate” film. Marshall has decided to produce, direct and star in a no-budget, dramatic feature about the rise and fall of his family’s fast-food empire – a chain of hamburger joints known affectionately throughout the Windsor area as the Hi Ho Restaurants.
In making his film on the Hi Ho Empire, Marshall hopes to right the wrongs of history by exposing the fact that his late grandfather, Amie Fortin, is the true inventor of fast food.
Marshall’s plan involves wading through the often-conflicting anecdotes offered by his grandfather’s living sons: Francis, Donat, Paul, and Norman. Together, Marshall refers to them as“the four gospels”.
But the plan goes sour as Marshall’s uncles start to worry about Marshall’s emphasis on the dark decline of the family empire. As it turns out, they’re not so crazy about their dogged nephew dragging out the skeletons from the family closet. One by one they begin to stonewall the project – a project that teeters ever closer to the brink of disaster.
As his film slowly derails, the only thing keeping Marshall from a total nervous collapse is his daily visits with his elderly grandmother – a retired hairstylist and housebound hypochondriac. Through seasonal haircuts and endless games of cards they manage to forge a powerful bond that is at once bizarre and thoroughly touching.
As Marshall's childhood friend, documentary filmmaker Matt Gallagher follows Marshall’s personal odyssey – from its ambitious beginnings to its unraveling conclusion.
Soon, a film within a film emerges and the line between truth and fiction becomes increasingly blurred. Along the way, The Rise and Fall of the Grumpy Burger delves into the madness of amateur filmmaking, the complexities of family ties, and the “truth” about fast food.