by Dane Youssef
Bryan Johnson shows amazing talent and depth as a first-time greenhorn filmmaker. There's more than just one worthwhile film here. There's two.
"Vulgar" plays out like a scrappy, slapped-together little campy comedy and then shifts wildly into much darker territory. And then back again. And back...
Johnson seems to have a natural wild indie touch and while it has touches of some of the darkest nature ever uncovered on the screen, it also has some nice Jersey-blue collar comedy.
Now here's a movie Tarantino would enjoy. It's kinda like a soup. It plays out like a stew of movies, styles and ideas. European avant-garde cinema, indie film and campy, low-budget comedy. It's a shame this movie didn't play in Europe and France. Or college kids. This is the kind of thing they all gobble up.
I'm glad I bought a copy. It gives me hope as an aspiring filmmaker... and joy and thrills as a movie-lover who loves off-kilter stuff.
Brian O' Halloran is touchingly determined and vulnerable as the clown. He scrapes out a meager existence as a "party whore" and lives in his hovel of a home, living on s*** wages, barely making ends meet. His landlord is understanding and sympathetic and lets him "mow the lawn or do some maintenance" and knocks off a few.
Ethan Suplee and Matt Mawer are effective and creepy as his inbred and mentally-retarded sons who seem to have been phoned right out of "Deliverence."
Jerry Lewkowitz is just plain frightening and disturbing as Ed Fanelli. With his portly beer-belly, bug-eyes, raspy voice and bad wig that looks like that of a little boy's hairstyle. I heard that the inspiration for this character was Dennis Hopper in "Blue Velvet." He's one of the scariest villains (or any kind of characters) to pop up on any kind of cinema in history.
The rape sequence with Will is just horrifying. It outdoes the whole scene in "Blue Velvet" and literally makes you BELIEVE and FEEL what this poor guy who just wants to entertain little kids is feeling.
The morning after where he has his emotional breakdown is just as strong. Will confides in Syd about the whole evening and Syd begs him to go to the cops, but Will swears him to secrecy. These scenes all shows strength, talent and feeling with both O' Halloran's acting and Johnson's directing.
Johnson himself, like Tarantino and producer Kevin Smith, once jockeyed in a video store. He gives the movie the flavor of a lot of low-budget films and masters past. He gives some "Kevin Smith" flavor in the dialouge and the juice of other great filmmakers', but he also gives it his own signature style. You'd have to see it to know what I mean.
Johnson has never been within 200 miles of a film school, so he seems to have gotten all of whatever film education and knowledge from Smith and Mosier.
You can tell Johnson is emulating Smith as a filmmaker, like the film's dialouge has an overwritten, over-articulate Kevin Smith-ness to it. Not to mention Smith's one-shot camera set-up. Still, there are moments that generate pain beyond words and conversation that Smith has never shown us.
And anyway, this is NOT a Kevin Smith film. I love the man, but this is another cup of tea altogether. Many will see because of the "Kevin Smith" name on the marquee. Which means they;ll be in for some serious shock and disappointment.
Johnson's only real mistake, in my opinion (and this is one that hurts the movie more than anything else) is his decision to act in it as the clown's only friend. You see why Smith only gave him bit-parts as Steve-Dave. He's no actor. He tends to mumble a lot of the time.
Look, read the other "user reviews" on IMDb about Johnson's "Vulgar." Listen to them describe it. YOU know if it's the movie for you. It all depends on your taste. Go to the site's OFFICIAL WEB PAGE and read the interview with Johnson. After hearing him, does it sound like your type of movie?
All in all, this is a hell of a debut. I liked Johnson's different stories and juggling them all at once. Comedy, drama, horror, working-class stories...
And at the center of it all, View Askew's poster boy--Flappy the Clown.
Have you ever wondered the real story about that clown? Here it is...
Now dear readers, I am not recommending this movie as "fun for the whole family." I do not recommend this as a movie to see with your drinking acquaintances. No, this a movie for a specific audience with a very acquired palate--darker, daring, low-budget, creepy, campy, gross and funny all at once.
Don't see this because Kevin Smith produced it. See it because this is your taste. Read the reviews. Does this sound like your brand of poison?
You know who you are.
--Loving "The Vulgar," Dane Youssef