Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Killer Joe

***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. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!


Killer Joe – 4 out of 5

Doing something illegal in order to collect insurance money—whether it be killing a loved one (of course, how loved can they be if you’re murdering them), setting fire to your failed dog sweaters boutique or pretending that you hurt your back at work, people will seemingly do anything to collect those sweet, sweet insurance payouts that it might as well become the NEW American Dream. Hell, with all the times this has been used as a premise for television shows and movies and all the time it has happened in real life, it might as well replace getting rich, fucking supermodels and becoming Batman as the American Dream.

Another American Dream:  Having Matthew McConaughey's bone structure.

Killer Joe is exactly that; a story about some people (in this case, rednecks in Texas) out to have someone killed so they can get their hands on that ill begotten insurance cash. After a young man named Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) gets into some debt—I’m guessing betting on Pod Racing was involved—he realizes the best way out is to hire a hitman to kill his mom and have his mentally challenged sister collect the life insurance payout. Chris seeks the counsel of his father; Ansel (Thomas Haden Church), and, reluctantly, agrees to the plan and they hire Killer Joe (Matthew McConaughey); a cop who is a contract killer on the side (we all need hobbies and hobbies that can pay out are the best kind there is). Sadly, they don’t have the money needed to pay Joe upfront so they work out a deal where they will pay him after the insurance money comes in. Unfortunately, the deal involves Killer Joe (or Mr. Joe) getting to get his freak on with Chris’ mentally challenged sister; Dottie (Juno Temple), because…well…it’s Texas.

In Texas, you can't be bothered with growing in your beard.  There's just no time.

You might remember this movie because it made some headlines when those doofuses at the MPAA (you know, the same people who think violence in a movie is fine but sex and bad language is the stuff to avoid) stuck this one with an NC-17 rating—basically marking it as porno in the world of mainstream cinema. Eventually, the film got an R-rating but was released in all its inappropriate glory on DVD, as well as a very few theaters willing to host an NC-17 film. To be honest, for the sake of the story, all the NC-17 stuff felt like it needed to be there and didn’t feel gratuitous. What could possible be so bad in the film that warranted the mark of NC-17, you ask? Well, mainly some disturbing violence and some naughty bits being shown. However, after sitting through A Serbian Film and feeling a part of my soul and my desire for a happy, bright world die, Killer Joe was actually pretty tame.

I guess nailing mentally challenged girls is enough for the rating but Safety Helmet looks
like this for crying out loud.  The movie pretty much had to tell you she is mentally retarded.

Familiar story aside, Killer Joe was pretty good despite the controversy of its rating. Usually, when we see a movie struggling to get the rating it wants or fighting the one it got and it makes headlines and sees a little controversy, the hype that is created sets the standard for the movie high and the film ultimately fails to deliver. In fact, in the opening moments of the film, I felt like that was what was going to happen but as I stopped focusing on if the film really is NC-17 worthy and just watched the film, I was quickly sucked in to the film’s story and great performances.

"Ding fries are done."

Even though Emile Hirsch is in the film and doing his best to phone-in his performance, the rest of the cast really steals the movie. Juno Temple is great as Dottie and is able to make the idea that Joe is nailing the girl who is basically ready for the short bus even creepier. Gina Gershon stars as Ansel’s wife; Sharla, and is introduced into the story not wearing pants but truly shows off her skills (skills that involve the wearing of pants) in the final act of the film as we see how devious she can be (How devious? Did you not read about how she wasn’t wearing pants?) Thomas Haden Church nearly steals the movie as the conflicted Ansel but Matthew McConaughey needs to be mentioned…and not because his character is a hitman with a fondness for boning the special needs class.

I took the liberty of using MS Paint to make you some pants, Gershon.

McConaughey is a versatile actor—versatile in the fact that he can either be completely amazing in a movie (like Frailty) or he is basically a living joke of an actor (think every romcom he’s ever done)…and sometimes he sports a really cool beard and jumps into a dragon’s mouth.
That movie has some great beards...

"Alright, alright, alright, I'm going to beat your face in."
Mr. Alright-alright-alright is great as the psychopath contract hitman aptly named Killer Joe…until the film’s conclusion. After all the ducks are in a row (and ready to walk head first into a fan of insanity) the movie goes off-the-rails (in a good way) and McConaughey goes nuts (I know what you’re thinking: A man who kills people for extra cash somehow loses his mind? Impossible, you say but I assure you those aspects of the story that will remain unsaid for the sake of spoilers that this turn has merit). During this long and uncomfortable sequence (uncomfortable due to the subject matter, not because of the film’s production) I saw something in McConaughey I hadn’t seen since the mid-90s. As the character of Killer Joe snaps, hints of one of McConaughey’s most obscure performances began to shine through. I’m talking about his role in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. I found myself wondering if somehow the two movie universes were connected and if McConaughey wasn’t reprising his role from the 1994 horror film because they played the same. In fact, if you would have slapped a robot leg brace on him you might have suddenly found him chasing Renee Zellweger around. It’s not that far fetch, actually. Remember, his name was Vilmer Slaughter in that film and here he’s Killer Joe.

Also both movies took place in Texas.  This is NOT a coincidence.

Apparently being a bad actor takes its toll.
Shockingly, I must admit that I didn’t feel that Killer Joe actually deserved the NC-17 rating. In fact, if it had potential to be a major blockbuster, those morons would have probably given it a PG rating because the studio paid them to (check out the great documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated to see what a bunch of douche-nozzles the MPAA really are). With its strong performances (Emile Hirsch excluded—have you got the feeling yet from my reviews that I don’t think Hirsch is a very talented actor?) and Matthew McConaughey going insane in a way we haven’t seen him reach in awhile in his career, Killer Joe was a…great movie. Bet you thought I was going to say it was a killer movie, didn’t ya? If I had, such a stupid pun would have shamed us both.

1 comment:

  1. I loved it. The only knock I had was the writing. It was very weak at times, very strong at other times. Outside of Hirsh, who is very ordinary, Matt M, Temple and Girshon were fabulous and the cinematography was also very good. The opening was poor and I almost bailed after the first 15 minutes because it appeared boring. I would not have opened with the Gina pantiless scene. It had the makings of porn. That probably killed it for a lot of people. I kept going because it had just enough to make me think it would get better, which it did.


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