The Movie Buffer

Monday, January 12, 2009

DVD review: Postal


A spoiler a day keeps the doctor away.


Uwe Boll – this name strikes fear into the heart of every videogame/film fan. From House of the Dead to Far Cry, Boll has become one of the most prolific and maligned video game film producers with half a dozen completed and several in development. Brutally maligned is more like it. Rightfully so because none of his films have been well received.

Writers note: With so many unsuccessful films under his belt, you may ask yourself where Boll gets the money for these films. In Germany, there is a government program that allows investors to get big tax deductions and other write-offs for financing films, especially if they fail to turn a profit.

Postal is yet another strike out notch on Boll’s bedpost. Based on run-and-gun third person shooter of same name, it stars an unnamed man (usually called “Dude”, “Bro” or “Guy”) who has no particular agenda other than trying to make a living. Along the way he gets involved in several shootouts, a heist for a cult, and a terrorist plot. It’s also supposed to be a humorous, so they’ve heaped on some shit and gay jokes.

The film is a collection of 5 subplots connected poorly by “random” events in an attempt to capture the open world, choose-your-own-adventure aspect of the game. An open world works great in a game because the player thinks it and then makes it happen. In a movie it’s terrible because it’s difficult to follow one event to the next because what seems like a logical progression to the director may seem like an incoherent mess to the viewer.

Zack Ward, Dave Folley and Verne Troyer are in this film, but phone in their performances. Even if it’s a cash-grab guys, do your job!

There’s not much to say about because the film is pure fluff. I guess Boll was trying to make a movie that’s awfully bad, but kind of endearing. It’s too bad that everything that happens in this movie is so crass that any nugget of satire that may have existed was reduced to a dick joke. This sort of film would have been a challenge for any director (I’m looking at you DOOM director Andrzej Bartkowiak) which is probably why the rights weren’t picked up before Boll.

One thing in Boll’s defense is that he seems to be a guy who loves what he does and doesn’t mind taking some flak to get his projects completed. Look at Christopher Walken and Samuel L Jackson, they’ve done some goofy films and people love them. So why not Boll? Well, you need at least a couple decent films under your belt before you start going out on a limb. Then, people need to know that you realize that you’re doing a crummy picture.

Postal is a disjointed failure that wastes the talents of its actors and more importantly the viewers’ time. Pass on Postal. I tried to work in an undeliverable joke, but it didn't seem to have legs.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

DVD Review: Kabluey


Hey, Hey, kids! No spoilers below!


Dressed in a blue corporate mascot costume, Salman (Scott Prendergast) stumbles around listlessly advertising office rental space and comes to realize that he’s trapped, not only in the suit, but by his way of life. He’s been fired from several jobs and has had to move in with his sister in-law (Lisa Kudrow) to help her with her children; her husband (his brother) is fighting in Iraq with the armed forces. He’s a grown man, but not quite because he’s living an extended childhood by relying on everyone’s sympathy and charity.

Things begin to change for Salman when he dons his blue suit because people recognize him and even enjoy his company. This Jekyll and Hyde transformation sets up an emotional coming-of-age story and some bone-dry humor.

The trailers for this film are highly misleading because they focus on the absurd sections of the film and paint a picture that this is a pure comedy. With these expectations, I was surprised by what unfolded, a drama with deliberate pacing and plot development. After recovering from my initial disappointment, I bought into it and started to like that it for what it was.

Much of the humor is found in Salman’s deadpan reactions and timid speech. His bashful personality leads him into many painfully awkward situations, but they all have a thread of kindness as a lifeline from being too repellent.

Writer-director-star Scott Prendergast uses the stark environment of a small “every-town” to heighten the sense of isolation. Salman is a weird guy to begin with and it gets much worse when he enters the microcosm of the closely knit community.

The supporting cast came up huge in the film to drive the story forward. Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a loud-mouthed, womanizer is perfect casting and his dialog is the most quotable in the film. Lisa Kudrow delivers an emotionally complex performance as the lonely sister-in-law. Some may call her bitchy, but given the circumstances, she’s over-worked and under-appreciated, her reactions are understandable.

Even though I came into this film thinking comedy, the deeper story did grab and hold me. I enjoyed seeing Salman’s evolution into a more complete character, though the ending is a left to our imagination. Ultimately, the film was better than I would have thought and I liked it a lot.