Monday, September 5, 2011
MOVIE REVIEW: Hobo with a Shotgun
So yesterday, I watched Hobo with a Shotgun.
If you're not familiar with this movie, I don't know if I can impress upon you how absurd it is. But if you can imagine the hyper-violence and grindhouse nostalgia of Tarantino, combined with the disorientation and paranoia of Terry Gilliam, topped off with just a dash of the wanton silliness and cult appeal of Napoleon Dynamite, you are on your way to getting a sense of what Hobo with a Shotgun has in store.
The clearest comparison is to Machete, another "intentional b-movie" that evolved from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse project. However, I found Hobo to be much more enjoyable than Machete.
But the point is that this is a particular type of movie, and it's going to get drastically different reactions from different people. This is the type of movie where people are murdered with ice skates, and a pedophile dressed as Santa Claus roams the streets looking for victims. The world of Hobo with a Shotgun is a twisted version of our own -- a dystopia where there are no concepts of decency or right and wrong. This world is ruled over by a gangster named The Drake. Now it's never explained who The Drake is, or exactly how he came to power. All we know is that he's a big bully who rules through fear, and that's all we need to know to make it clear that the city is in need of a hero to stand up to him and his two sons, Slick and Ivan.
All of the performances in the film are actually quite good, but I have to say that Gregory Smith and Nick Bateman are especially good in the roles of Slick and Ivan. When your role is essentially to play a sociopathic version of Biff from Back to the Future (complete with Harrington jacket), you basically just have to bring a lot of enthusiasm and have fun with the part, which both Smith and Bateman do. Without giving away any of their crazy antics, I will say that they are unbelievably sadistic and completely irredeemable, and I enjoyed every minute that they were on screen.
But the movie is built in large part around its tone, which means it's really a director's movie, with the actors merely pitching in a bit to support the vision. Jason Eisener is a first-time director, and he acquits himself admirably. While the movie drags at parts and is ultimately overlong, I found myself unexpectedly refreshed by the way in which it rarely, if ever, winks at the audience or otherwise breaks the fourth wall. While Hobo is intentionally "bad," it never lets on that it's in on the joke. It plays as a glimpse into a bizarre parallel universe, and whatever laughs it earns derive from absurd characters being themselves.
And that's really the main question you need to ask yourself if you are considering seeing this film: Does this sound like a world you want a peek into? If you think it might be, I would recommend Hobo with a Shotgun. It lives up to the absurdity of its title and then some. I give it a 7.5 (out of 10).