Tuesday, March 24, 2015


***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! If you see the movie, you would think the title is describing the quality of the film.

Vulgar – 1 out of 5

Kevin Smith and his View Askew Productions have a legion of fans. With this production company, the man has been involved with the creation of films that have become pop cultural icons and have hit home with lots of people and have remained precious to them. Hell, I like Smith but will admit that I can no longer watch a lot of his films in the View Askewniverse. Thanks to Comedy Central playing Dogma a million times a week while I was in college, I can no longer watch that film and Clerks, its sequel, Mallrats, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back have worn thin for me and are no longer funny. While that sounds like I’m being negative, it’s really just my experience with these films.  I simple don't find them amusing anymore.  I actually have a great deal of respect for Smith because he has the means to make his creative dreams come true and not a lot of creative types have that opportunity. For example, I hated Tusk but I was damn impressed that Smith had the ability to make his idea a reality. But enough talking about Smith because this film wasn’t made by him, only produced. This one, instead, was written and directed by his friend Steve Dave Bryan Johnson—or, as some might know him as, the man with the epic beard on Comic Book Men.

Here's what Johnson looked like 14 years ago...the younger days of his
epic beard.

Vulgar tells the story of the mascot to View Askew Productions. Will Carlson (Brian O’Halloran) is a man struggling through life. His career is being Flappy the Clown and performing at kid’s parties but the problem is that it doesn’t pay the bills, as so pointed out by his best friend Syd (Johnson). Carlson eventually gets the idea that he should take Flappy and make him more adult oriented and hire this new clown, called Vulgar, out to bachelor parties for prank purposes. After putting an ad in the paper (it’s like Craigslist, kids, but made from dead trees), a man named Ed Fanelli (Jerry Lewkowitz) hires Vulgar but Carlson soon finds terror when Ed and his two sons; Frankie (Ethan Suplee) and Gino (Matthew Maher), viciously attack, drug, and rape him. Carlson tries to put the pieces of his life back in order and, by accident, becomes a hero after he saves the life of a little girl. Carlson, as Flappy (not Vulgar), is thrown into the spotlight and it ends up giving Flappy a career where he gets a successful kid’s show. However, Carlson’s past catches up when Ed Fanelli sees his familiar face and wants money in exchange for not releasing the video of the assault…

Dammit, why did I include this screencap?

Looks like a Richard Marx video.
Overall, I didn’t really care for this film. Even with the disturbing nature of the story, it held some potential but was held back by a lot of factors. The first one was the piss-poor quality of the filmmaking. The lighting is awful, the video quality is messy and muddled, and the editing is sloppy. I understand the drawbacks of small budgets but when the lighting is so bad that characters are entire consumed by shadows that you can't see them during intense sequences, it ends up hurting the overall story telling and it quickly threw me out of the tale.

Seriously, has there ever been a person who wasn't already a clown that actually
liked clowns?

The biggest problem I had with the film was the acting from Brian O’Halloran. I’ll be honest, and I know this will piss off the Smith fans who look at Clerks like it is some sort of holy item, I don’t think O’Halloran is a good actor. He seemed okay for Clerks and its sequel but, aside from that, I see a guy who has one setting and it’s the one he uses in the iconic first film of Kevin Smith. Will Carlson comes off not too much different from all the other characters in the View Askewniverse and it made the film a bit distracting to me. Granted, there were times when his pain after his assault was done quite well but the rest of the time, he comes off no different than the guy who is, essentially, the tired joke of how he’s not suppose to be here today and the world won’t stop shitting on him.

O'Halloran just looks like an evil clown when the make-up comes off.

Another issue that became really distracting was the sense that Bryan Johnson was trying really hard to imitate the writing style of Kevin Smith. Very often, dialogue (and this is usually only seen during the scenes Johnson is in) comes off unnatural and like it is trying to recreate the back-and-forth seen in films like Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy. While Smith can make this dialogue—which is wholly unnatural but often amusing and witty—actually work. Johnson, on the other hand, didn’t seem to have that under control and too much of the dialogue comes off laughably (or uncomfortably) unrealistic. This is extremely evident after Carlson is attacked and violated and is being visited by Syd. The back-and-forth the two have doesn’t sound like something that would really be exchanged and, rather, sounds like some faux-intellectual dribble that a first year film student would write and think he created the smartest sounding thing in the world. It ended up taking the horrific event that happened to Carlson and downplay it, making it impossible to sympathize with the character.

Remember when the internet went crazy because Smith shaved his beard and
news sites reported it like it was real news?  Sometimes the internet has too much
time on its hands.

While many might find the story to be disgusting and disturbing, I actually found a lot of potential in it. What happens to Carlson is primed for unique drama that is emitting from a male perspective that is, in this particular case, not seen in the world of film. The film probably could have been interesting alongside its disturbing side if the script was tweaked but the end result is just a floundering tale that can’t figure out if it wants to be a comedy, drama, a crime thriller, or even a different version of Death Wish or I Spit On Your Grave (but with a clown).

Seriously, fuck everything about clowns.

Overall, I just didn’t care for Vulgar. The story was a mess that couldn’t figure out if it was a comedy or something darker, the lead is filled by a man who is trying to play a completely different role and is forcefully squeezing it into a role it wasn’t meant for, and the film just looks awful. The whole thing felt muddled and unclear over what it wants to be and it results in a film that is hard to watch and even harder to really engage in.

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