Synopsis: An eccentric home-schooled boy sets off on an offbeat journey when his story gets ripped off by a legendary fantasy novelist and adapted into a disastrous movie.
Release Date: October 30, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13
The mixing of comedy and science fiction in this film turns out something that is curious for the viewer. To say you will either love it or hate it is not far off from the truth. A host of out-there characters line the screen. Some of which are hard to stomach by their appearance. The writing is superb with its very unique character eccentricities, references to science fiction, development of the story, and how the seriousness that is intended resonates to the viewer as comedy. The final one being what is most evident and exciting about this movie. The seriousness has not failed, as in camp, but was intended to fail; but only where the viewer is concerned. In the movie it holds true and keeps the story moving. This is a serious story, with many bumps along the way for the main character Benjamin, that leave you either laughing or swearing at the screen. No matter how angry you may get or how many times you shake your head in wonderment at just how bad something can look or act in the end you will want to stand and up and cheer.
When you leave a film it always says something, either positive or negative, when you can distinctly remember a character. Whether it is what they were wearing, how they carried themselves, or a specific line that will remain emblazoned in your memory for all eternity. This film provides a cast of characters where all will be remembered as you walk out of the auditorium and two whom you shall possibly never forget. These two characters are Bronco/Brutus (Sam Rockwell) and Dr. Chevalier (Jemaine Clement).
The first thing that comes to mind, when recalling Dr. Chevalier, is that I cannot even imagine exactly what type of Doctor he is – unless being a Doctor of science fiction pulp novels is possible. The film sets him up as the godfather of science fiction writing, and he is a celebrity in a very select circle of individuals. His demeanor is always one of a guru, speaking softly and with great emphasis on every word as if it were the gospel. His explanations on how to create characters is done with great poise and seriousness, when in actuality it is absolutely hilarious and overly ridiculous. The performance of Clement maintains a level of composure as his character sees his life crumbling around him and the facade in which he lives slowly fading away. This film is only possible with the grand performance by Clement as Dr. Chevalier. Without his sci-fi mystic persona this movie would just be about another plagiarizer in the world of literature. With it a whole new level of pathetic is born and a character whom you just want to rip the bluetooth from their ear, tear off the out-of-time out-of-place leather jacket, and scream at him that science fiction readers will not be talked down to, or fooled.
Then there is Bronco (and Brutus) from the unmistakable Sam Rockwell. The first time we meet Bronco he has had one of two of his most needed and favorite appendages removed. He is upset, foul-mouthed, and grungy. Grungy may not even begin to describe how he looks. Underneath the long scraggly beard and dirty exterior lies Sam Rockwell, bringing Bronco to life. Oh and what a life he brings. The seriousness of Bronco and his need to recover what has been taken from him is perfectly situated in the parody of sci-fi novels this movie represents. Bronco is the man of all men, the supreme specimen, and the hero for all. Rockwell nails the character. He just has a way of sinking into the bound and determined character of Bronco that leaves you smiling, laughing, rooting, and wanting more all at the same time. Just when you thought you had enough of him he recreates himself again; as Brutus the male transvestite hero who parades around in a pink jumpsuit with stick straight perfectly coifed blonde hair. No longer the brutish man, he now speaks with a slightly feminine drawl while battling gun toting flying stags. His ability to move between these two characters, making each one distinctly different and wholly believable (as far as you are suppose to believe in them that is) stems from a large capacity of talent and dedication.
As the opening titles begin you are at once sucked into the world of science fiction literature and the music goes perfectly alongside the images. A folky song from the 1960s by Zager and Evans, titled ‘In The Year 2525’, plays and the desire to tap your feet and bob your head along to the melody is impossible to resist. It is perfectly suited to the images of cover art from science fiction novels as the song speaks of man’s future in the coming millennia. The rest of the music in the film never reaches the high level of perfection of the opening sequence but it does not fail to richen the moments when it occurs. Interested?
There are so many opportunities for laughter in this film it is impossible to pinpoint exactly what was funny and what was not. I am hesitant to reveal any detail as it may take away from the initial shock of humor you will get when you watch the film. I think the best thing to say is go in with your mind open and your pop culture memories intact. It will make for a much more pleasing experience.
To say whether a film is good, bad, adequate, etc. is always a difficult task. In my own personal opinion, this movie teeters between a 3 and 4 clock rating. I do realize not everyone has a penchant for comedy that stems from bad science fiction novels and characters who can only be described with emphasis as “unique”. That said, this film receives 2 clocks. I just think its so bad at times, its just so very good.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Jared Hess
- Producer(s): Jared HessJerusha HessMichael Angarano (Benjamin)
- Screenwriter(s): John Baker (Don Carlos)Jennifer Coolidge (Judith)Sam Rockwell (Bronco/Brutus)
- Story: Jemaine Clement (Chevalier)
- Cast: Yuka RuellMunn PowellRichard A. Wright
- Editor(s): April Napier
- Cinematographer: David WingoAlterian
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA