Tickled presents a dilemma to those reviewing it. Specifically, how do you talk about the film without getting into spoilers, without tipping your hand to its many surprises? You can discuss the documentary’s premise – a continuation of Kiwi journalist David Farrier’s investigation into the mysterious world of “competitive tickling” – but to get into any more detail feels …inappropriate?
This veil of secrecy maybe overstates the bombshells Farrier and co-director Dylan Reeve have in store. I mean, if you read Farrier’s article and made a wild guess as to what was going on, you’d be in the right ballpark. What makes Tickled so entertaining, though, is how cleverly the pair unfold their discoveries.
Operating almost like a journalism procedural (think Spotlight but for tickling contests), the questions Tickled asks aren’t just “What’s going on?” but “How can they keep telling this story?” The looming threat of a narrative dead-end or lawsuit-induced cessation hangs over every minute of the film and ensures the documentary is gripping from start to end.
Could it have been more insightful, more psychologically considered? Certainly. But at the end of the day Tickled is more about the people investigating “competitive tickling” than those behind it, and their story is a cracker.