Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Genre: Drama, Dark Comedy
Opens locally Friday, May 13th, 2011
Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, Rainn Wilson, Devin Brochu
Directed by Spencer Susser (feature film debut)
“Hesher” is the worst kind of movie: It thinks it’s so cool and interesting but tries so hard at proving this that it ends up being anything but. Is there a point to Hesher, the movie? Is it intended to make sense, or be funny? Don’t ask me. You may hear from other critics that “Hesher” is hip and ground-breaking, but don’t be fooled…they too, probably think it’s cool to like “Hesher” simply because it’s different. It’s different all right.
The Plot. Trapped between a drama, and a dark comedy, “Hesher” the title comes from the film’s central character, a burn-out rebel anarchist of the same name, played as over-the-top as possible by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The trailers for this film seem to be proud of the fact that the movie’s plot is hard to explain, but I’d be surprised if the filmmakers even knew what was really going on. But basically Hesher is a loner, with tattoos and long hair, with a tendency to blow stuff up. When he meets a young boy, he simply moves in with the kid and starts doing laundry. Rainn Wilson plays the father, so depressed and out of touch that he barely has energy to speak, let alone ask why this random dude is living at the house. The mom was recently killed in a car wreck, so there are clear issues of depression in the household. Hesher’s anarchist ways disrupts the family, and I guess his presence is meant to light a fire, so to speak, under the butts of this lost family.
The movie began with a bit of promise, I suppose, as Hesher seemed interesting enough. Every time he enters a room, a guitar riff would announce his arrival. These quirky twists set you up as if this may be a comedy in the independent vain of something like Napoleon Dynamite. But the movie isn’t quite a comedy. It finds humor in that, “Oh, what will that crazy Hesher do or say next?” kind of way. It has such immaturity and obnoxiousness at it’s core, that I think only Beavis & Butthead could appreciate it. In fact, Beavis & Butthead is probably the best parallel one could draw when referring to Hesher, and if you were inthralled with the loser cartoon duo, maybe Hesher is for you. But unlike B & B, Hesher doesn’t benefit from good writing, or clever plays on words. It’s just “beat you over the head” rebel-cool…Why? Because it says so.
Natalie Portman, seemingly appearing in every other film these days, puts out her worst performance since Attack of the Clones. It’s not quite her fault, this material leaves little room for any of the actors to shine. Devin Brochu, the child actor at the center of the film, isn’t all that great either I’m afraid to say. Movies relying on children to pull of meaningful performances often suffer when the material is more than the young actor can bear. Here, it may be the rare case that the material was less than the child deserves, as I hope he finds better roles for himself that require at least an ounce of characterization.
Bottom Line. So you’ll either like the character of Hesher or you will not. For me, I hate movies and filmmakers like this, the kind that think they are so cool and talented that they approach each scene with a tongue-in-cheek snobbery that I don’t appreciate. And if you don’t like or get their movie, it’s not the movies fault, it’s your fault for having somehow missed the joke.
Well, “Hesher” is a joke of a movie that I would have rather missed altogether. And anybody who finds charm and meaning within it? Well, to you I say “bravo.”
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