Monday, February 20, 2012

REVIEW: Red State (2011)

Hey guys, ready for an awful Kevin Smith movie that besmirches everything good he’s ever put to his name? I’m not, but I’m going to do the review anyway. This is Red State.

Director: Kevin Smith
Starring: John Goodman and who cares?

You know, people should just stick to what they do best. You wouldn’t ask a baker to write you an award winning novel and you wouldn’t ask a novelist to bake a cake for your wedding. The same principle even applies to movie directors who try and step outside what they’re usually known for. Kevin Smith, for example, is a comedy director. He makes quirky off the wall comedies about larger than life subjects with a lot of style and wit. Here, he has created a god-awful ‘horror’ film with nothing resembling his usual awesomeness at all. And alright, I’m all for people branching out every once in a while, but for Pete’s sake at least try harder than Smith did here!

So the film starts off with some home video quality directing as we see one of our main douchebags riding in the car with a woman who I presume is his mom, although really they look about the same age. They pass by some fanatical church protesters angry at gay people, and then he goes to school where his teacher is so cool that she says curse words in class and uses colloquialisms because that’s what Kevin Smith thinks happens in all schools…then at lunch the douchebag meets up with other douchebags who are totally different! Actually…no they’re not.

That's the smart thing to do! Why don't you just paint a big target on your chest while you're at it?

They talk about sex, use a lot of vulgar language and make plans to meet up with some random woman on the internet for sex that night, because that’s the only way they’ll ever be real men and have memorable times in high school. Wow. So is there…anything likable about them? Is there anything that doesn’t make me want to stab them all through the jugulars multiple times over? No? Okay then.

I know what you’re thinking here: doesn’t every Kevin Smith movie have characters that act like total jackasses and talk about sex in rambling monologues? How is this movie any different? Well, where Clerks used that kind of dialogue for humorous purposes and backed it up with strong acting and directing, here it’s just like Smith didn’t even give a crap. It’s got no style to it. This is just random, tasteless nonsense. There’s nothing funny or interesting about it and it certainly doesn’t draw us into the characters, so why? I guess it’s “realistic” in some fashion, but even that’s a stretch to say. Realism only goes so far until it starts to actually detract from the film.

So our three cancerous blobs sneak out and go to a trailer in the middle of nowhere where an ugly middle aged woman answers the door with a bottle of cheap beer in her hand; isn’t this sounding sort of like a really awful Superbad rip off right now? This whole opening is kind of like that – like if Superbad took itself really seriously. And I don’t think anyone ever really wanted to see that, Kevin Smith!

The picture of romance.

But never fear, because Smith does change it up afterwards by introducing the plot twist that the whole online sex thing was really a scam; shock and awe…the kids are kidnapped by this cult of religious nutbags led by Michael Parks, who…was in some movies, I guess. And I mean this character is just asinine to the extreme. It wouldn’t be so bad if what he was saying was cut down to just a minute or two, but Smith keeps the camera on him for like 15 minutes while he just rambles on and on and on about how homosexuals are bad and whatever else. Pretty much you can just sum it up as “Blah blah blah blah blah…” There’s nothing of any worth here.

Easily the most annoying character I've seen in a while, and I watched REPO a few weeks ago.

And you’re tired of this after like the first 2 minutes. WE GET IT. Kevin Smith is making a commentary about the Westboro Baptist Church and other fanatical religious sects; it’s not like he’s saying anything controversial here! So why all the babbling? Why are you making us sit through this torture, Kevin Smith?

So there’s also this other plot thread about how the sheriff of the county is having a gay love affair with some random guy and hiding it from his wife. How riveting. Why don’t you actually show us something interesting or relevant next time? This is all just a set up anyway to get the deputy guy to go over to the cult church place and do the whole cliché ‘cop comes within an inch of finding out the bad guys but is too dumb to put the pieces together.’

"Duhhhhrrrr, don't make me think; I just came from a baked yams and honey and Bud Light and cowboy hat rodeo!"

Shame on you Kevin Smith…shame on you.

So yeah, as you can gather, there has so far been nothing in this movie that even merits a light hearted joke or jab. Which is sad. But don’t worry, we have some real raising the stakes moments coming up! Like when the church people kill a guy by tying him to a cross and putting a bullet through his head…

…and when they kill the cop who comes to visit even though that will CLEARLY, OBVIOUSLY cause problems. That’s great. You know, if these people are so gun happy, how have they even survived this long? I also love how when one of them gets killed by the hostage kid that escapes, the old lady who we first met starts freaking out and acting like it’s a Shakespearean tragedy. Because, you know, bad things usually never happen when you take people hostage and try to kill them. THAT’S JUST PREPOSTEROUS!

Also the sheriff can’t mobilize his forces because Our Lord and Master Michael Parks blackmails him about being gay! Good law enforcement? What’s that?!

Oh boo hoo, you whiny little jackass. Grow a pair.

Oh, and because this movie has absolutely no idea what it’s doing, it actually hid a John Goodman performance way far back into its recesses. Wouldn’t one good actor be the thing you want to focus on, Kevin Smith? I know you like being edgy and off-kilter but…seriously. It’s John Goodman! He plays a cop who is under pressure from the bureaucracy to…be bureaucratic more often, I guess. They go to the crazy cult church and the crazy people start a shootout with them! Because again, they’ve somehow survived this long without blowing themselves up and I guess they were just tired of NOT being blown up.

Then as if the movie wasn’t insulting enough, we get one of the younger girls freeing the only main character left and trying to force him to help her save her younger cousins. Yeah, because I’m really gonna have sympathy for any of these wretched characters now; that’s a laugh. Of course the main character actually agrees, which is one of the only things I liked at all in this. This plot thread could have worked, but never underestimate Red State’s mediocrity as both characters literally get killed off in their next scene. Yes, really.

Having plots that go somewhere is tough I guess

Hey, taking this movie too seriously? It’s OK, we have a scene where Michael Parks asks that crazy fake-prostitute lady to get him tea during a big battle scene. Hooray for incompetence!

Ugh, alright, I am just about sick of this…the movie ends with the government putting Michael Parks in jail and putting John Goodman in another department different from the one he’s in now. I really can’t even bother to talk about this one anymore; it’s just that bad.

Red State is total ass, and I can safely say that Kevin Smith has been caught red handed with this one as there just isn’t any quality to be found. Every plot thread brought up is quickly dismissed for no reason and without any fanfare, like the movie just couldn’t wait to shoot itself in the foot again and again and again, like a suicidal Looney Tunes character that won’t bleed out no matter how many times the gun sounds off. It's preachy as hell, too, and doesn't have anything really interesting to say on top of that. Yeah, religious fanaticism is BAD. Did you know that?!

The characters are awful…they really expect us to care one wink about any of these horrible, horrible people? Are we supposed to root for the idiotic dolts who tried to solicit sex over the internet, or the ridiculously heinous church cult members who are about as likable as dried up gum on the bottom of my shoe? The acting is Z-grade garbage, the writing is bland at best, the directing is an immature drunken mess…where’s the quality? Where the hell is anything in this movie that I can enjoy even one little bit? John Goodman is pretty good, but then, they don’t even use him to his full potential. What would Jay and Silent Bob have to say about this?

I thought so. Case closed.