Thursday, February 24, 2011

Heavy Times (2010) are great times

An obnoxious loudmouth kidnaps his brother-in-law along with his two friends and takes them on a road trip where they are subjected to both his horrible company and other unexpected annoyances.

After recently reviewing several films in the horror genre, it is refreshing to check out something in the realm of comedy. It's even more of a bonus when an indie film like Heavy Times, sent to The Man-Cave by directors Benjamin Mark and Ryan McKenna, brings major stomach-busting laughter on such a low budget.

The film begins with a trio of pals from the northeast part of the U.S. who finish up their working day and head to a party. Mark (Adam Lauver) is a used car salesman, but not a very good one. Hugh Siemens (Jay Brunner), who physically resembles the Mac character from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, is a kids' sports coach. Then there is Dan (Brian D. Evans), who unintentionally invites trouble into all three of their lives when he takes the guys to visit his sister.

In all honesty, these boys are a little awkward, which is a fact assessed from their failed interactions at the aforementioned party. Mark gets into an argument over his vocabulary and how no one understands what he ever says to people. His dispute goes south once he tries to break down the definition of the word "behooves", which he states has something to do with behavior and horses' hoofs. Dan trips all over himself when he tries to impress an old crush. She doesn't even remember who he is and bolts out the kitchen to dance with her friends rather than engage further conversation with him. And finally, Hugh's attempt to rap battle manifests into the most one-sided rap battle since Eminem got played out in the opening scene of 8 Mile.

After Dan brings the other guys to visit his sister, things really take off when they meet her husband Rick, played by the hilarious Jeff Koen. Rick is nothing more than an obnoxious loudmouth, and also out of work for over a year, whose only pleasure in life seems to be insulting people like our trio. In a moment of foreshadowing during dinner, Rick keeps preaching repeatedly with such passion that apparently Montreal is the "place to be" and they all need to go there so they can party like it's the millennium. 

First, he takes the boys out for some brew at a bar, then Rick enacts his plan once they pass out. They are essentially kidnapped and taken to, you guessed it, Montreal. No this is not the end of the journey, as the heavy times are just about to begin.

The main standout of the cast is comedian Jeff Koen, who ingeniously improvises his lines a majority of the running time. From his first onscreen appearance, he chews the scenery alive as well as his co-star victims. It seems that a lot of what he brings to his character Rick stems from his own personality and that is truly a wonderful, wonderful thing. If ballbusting was an international sport, like the World Ballbusting Federation, Koen would be its Hulk Hogan. The man clearly has a 20th degree black belt in the art and does not hold back in his insults at all. As funny as this film is, he just makes it that much funnier.

Another memorable character is Gunther, played by Keaton Farmer. Gunther is a sarcastically stereotypical goth/emo character who the guys interact with during their trip. Sure Farmer is given some great lines, as well as some hysterical props to work with, but it is the way he sells his dialogue that is what makes his portrayal so unforgettable. In fact, you would think the man was a seasoned actor with a SAG card and not a rookie acting in his first film.

Even though Farmer and Koen are fantastic, the rest of the cast is nothing to shake a stick at either. The trio of friends are all great delivering credible portrayals of their characters. Wherever the directors mined their acting talent, they definitely found some diamonds among the coal. Just wished there was more of Melina Chadbourne, who plays Anna, the unfortunate sibling of Gunther. She definitely receives The Man-Cave's Babe seal of approval.

Any hint you might smell of The Hangover or Road Trip should just remain a hint, because this is an original road trip-style flick unlike any that have come before it. The dialogue addresses so many instances in every day banter we would all like to deconstruct. For example, when someone mentions that "everyone" thinks a certain way and you want to ask that person if they took a poll to gauge that "everyone" truly thinks this way. Or the overuse of the word "like" in our society. Nothing is "like" anything, just ask Gunther.

The film starts off a bit slow with a rather bizarre and seemingly irrelevant title sequence that might not catch your interest right away. But once the guys head to the party, get ready for some fun. "The Blast!" game is certainly something that should be required for the Man-Cave (and your parties') drinking game agenda in the future. And Times' use of talking to a skull is the best since Hamlet.

"We are all going to get stabbed with the toothbrush sooner or later", but for right now, be on the lookout for Heavy Times, which is still seeking distribution and looks to hit the film festival circuit this summer. The bumper sticker states "Super Sox, 1986 Champs, this is the year!", but maybe 2010 will be the year for this film to be a hit.

Click on this link to access the official Heavy Times website for more information.



Ricky said...

Sounds pretty good.

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