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Quint thinks the time-traveling vulgar teen pop culture comedy DETENTION is a runaway freight train of frenetic energy! SXSW '11!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with my continuing coverage of SXSW. We’ve officially entered the catch-up portion of the coverage, but it’s all pretty fresh so as long as I don’t slack off these reviews shouldn’t be horrible.

 

 

I think it was about the time that a stuffed time traveling bear had a flashback/origin scene involving a ruined desert city and a UFO that I fell in love with Detention.

Going into the movie the word wasn’t positive. I’d heard worst movie of the fest from some and just kinda wrote it off until I happened to bump into Hobo With A Shotgun’s Jason Eisener who said it was his favorite movie at SXSW. When I decided to alter my schedule and slip in the final screening of Joseph “Torque” Kahn’s DETENTION more positive word trickled out.

At film festivals this word-of-mouth can either kill a movie or make it hugely successful. Like turn-away-800-people successful (ahem Attack the Block ahem). Most of the time you really need to heed the warnings people throw out there, but every once in a while you go against the grain and find a movie that you completely embrace.

There isn’t a real easy one-liner for this movie, but to give you a basic idea of what this flick is I can say it’s like Scott Pilgrim had wild monkey sex with Scream while watching Not Another Teen Movie as Jon Waters watched on, jerking off furiously. Nine months later this ball of insanity called Detention was born out of that unholy conception.

Right up front, I’m a sucker for random humor. When I don’t know where the next joke is coming from I’m an easy, easy target. As such, the rip-roaring, hell-bent for leather ADD pace of this movie totally worked for me. So many different types of jokes are being thrown at the audience (background humor, crude lines, physical comedy, pop culture references, etc, etc) every 5 seconds that there’s no time to dwell on those that don’t work.

The biggest surprise of the film for me was that it wasn’t a spoof movie and while there are a fair amount of ‘90s references and nostalgia it’s not even really on The Wedding Singer level of “hey, remember THAT cheesy thing we used to wear/use/listen to?!?” reliance.

I was challenged to describe the plot of the film when I sang its praises on Twitter, but the reason I can’t tell you exactly what the through-line of the film is also the reason it worked so well for me. There’s about 28 different threads going on at once. On one thread you have a Scream-like slasher, straight from a fictional Saw-ish film series called Cinderhella, taking out high school students. On another there’s a Vice-Versa-like time-traveling switching of bodies story and then there’s a completely random reference to Brundlefly by way of Creepshow.

 

 

All that I describe above is like 10% of the shit thrown at you in this movie. I can totally understand being overwhelmed by this film and thinking it’s a schizophrenic mess, but at a certain point anybody who watches this movie has to make a crucial decision: am I in for the ride or will I fight it the whole way?

If you fight it, you could find yourself miserable. If you go with it you can have a blast… much in the same way one has to view Scott Pilgrim. Now, I think Scott Pilgrim’s a better film, a more linear film and one that has much more direction, but in terms of pure frenetic filmmaking it’s a spiritual brother to Edgar Wright’s comic adaptation.

Underneath the mile-a-minute filmmaking from Joseph Kahn (who, it should be known, put his money where his mouth is post-Torque and, according to his Q&A, put his entire music video and commercial-filled bank account into this production) is a solid teen-ish cast. Josh Hutcherson is probably most known of the group, but co-lead Shanley Caswell should be on everybody’s radar. She’s adorable, pulls off the comedy and romance with equal ease.

Detention is a love-letter to the pop culture of the last two decades that opens strong and immediately barrels down on the audience, demanding them to either keep in front of it or lay down and be crushed beneath its wheels.

As of this moment the flick doesn’t have US distribution, but the crazy-filled soundtrack (courtesy, I’m sure, of Kahn’s many music industry connections), high production value, recognizable young faces and manic energy should eventually attract a studio or mini-major willing to take a risk. All they have to do is cut a good trailer (much better than the one that’s out now that makes it look like a Friedberg/Seltzer “reference movie”… I refuse to call them spoof movies since all they do is reference other movies and go “Hey, remember that scene/character/joke! Hahahahaha, right?!?”) and they can bring an audience.

Or it could end up as “the most expensive home movie ever made” as Kahn said at the Q&A, but I doubt that.

Whatever should happen you’ll hear about it here. And that’s that for my thoughts on this flick. Stay tuned for a few more rambling thoughts on the films of SXSW from yours truly!

 

 

-Quint
quint@aintitcool.com
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Readers Talkback
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  • March 21, 2011, 4:24 a.m. CST

    Sounds Cool But...

    by CharlesG

    ... did Kahn really put all of his own money into this? No matter how good the movie is, that seems like a bad idea -- look what happened to Coppolla whenever he did that.

  • March 21, 2011, 4:24 a.m. CST

    Sounds Cool But...

    by CharlesG

    ... did Kahn really put all of his own money into this? No matter how good the movie is, that seems like a bad idea -- look what happened to Coppolla whenever he did that.

  • March 21, 2011, 4:25 a.m. CST

    Sounds Cool But...

    by CharlesG

    ... did Kahn really put all of his own money into this? No matter how good the movie is, that seems like a bad idea -- look what happened to Coppolla whenever he did that.

  • March 21, 2011, 4:27 a.m. CST

    Sorry for dupes

    by CharlesG

    I don't know why my post repeated. It wasn't all that clever in the first place

  • March 21, 2011, 5:31 a.m. CST

    Attack The Block had to turn away 800 people?

    by CHRISTIAN_BALE_TRASHED_MY_LIGHTS

    Woah. Good to hear that it's doing well, as I'm looking forward to seeing it.

  • March 21, 2011, 6:51 a.m. CST

    A style kinda like Kentucky Fried Movie or Amazon Women On The Moon

    by TheJudger

    A series of random unrelated montages. Right?

  • March 21, 2011, 9:27 a.m. CST

    That's not what montage means.

    by ROBRAM89

  • March 21, 2011, 9:52 a.m. CST

    Whose the dude in the bloody Miss Piggy costume?

    by Cheif Brody

    Hope it finds distribution somewhere! What would it be rated if it ever hits the MPAA's desk for approval?

  • March 21, 2011, 10:14 a.m. CST

    gotta be better then a sentient car tire

    by rben

    that exploses heads knowwhati'msayin?

  • March 21, 2011, 10:54 a.m. CST

    I checked out the trailer

    by TheJudger

    I misunderstood the review information. The movie seems to be a complete story vs a series of short stories- that may or may not be related to each other. Sorry about misunderstanding what a "Montage" really is robram89. Wiki defines it as a series of shots edited into a sequence to condense space, time, and information. Usually used to suggest the passage of time, rather than to create symbolic meaning.

  • March 21, 2011, 11:13 a.m. CST

    "Vignette" might be the word you're looking for.

    by ROBRAM89

    But again, nobody's seen the fucking movie so it could be anything.

  • March 21, 2011, 11:13 a.m. CST

    Dane Cook?

    by Heckles

    Ah. So close. Pass.

  • Okay? They are "Applause" signs for people who are confused by the images on the screen. They say "HEY, LOOK! HERE'S SOMETHING YOU RECOGNISE! NOW, LAUGH YOU FUCKING MONKEY!" And they do.

  • March 21, 2011, 11:19 a.m. CST

    sounds good but...

    by dirty john

    Dane Cook?? how does this guy get work?

  • March 21, 2011, 11:32 a.m. CST

    staring at spencer locke for 90mins? sure. :P

    by Bouncy X

    since she had such a small role in Resident Evil 4.

  • March 21, 2011, 11:39 a.m. CST

    The font on that poster is TERRIBLE

    by D.Vader

    Good on you for trying something different, but at least make it legible. WTF is that first word? Dance your future?

  • And not ONE mention of Donnie Darko? FOR SHAME.

  • March 21, 2011, 11:56 a.m. CST

    the font

    by Db

    I stared at that damn first word for a minute or two also, d.vader. I think it says "cancel your future."

  • March 21, 2011, 12:02 p.m. CST

    CANCEL! That's right.

    by D.Vader

    Thanks epiphenomenalwhatever! I remember having trouble the first time I saw the poster weeks ago, and it took me awhile to figure it out. This time I just couldn't grasp it. Awful font. Don't make the "L" in "cancel" have a sister vertical line before "C" if you don't want to confuse your audience. Bleh.

  • March 21, 2011, 12:18 p.m. CST

    Had the same problem seeing "CANCEL" in the poster.

    by Cheif Brody

    I like the other imagery in the poster, tho. In one view it looks like a bear roaring...and in another view...a skull figure cloaked in blood. <p> I have no idea if that was the intent.

  • March 21, 2011, 2:35 p.m. CST

    How does it compare to The FP?

    by ImMorganFreeman

    Seem similar, in a "no-holds barred, we're gonna throw a bunch of shit at the screen that we liked when we were growing up" kinda way. PS- Mr. Ramirez, Slashfilm sucks.

  • March 21, 2011, 4:05 p.m. CST

    Time traveling?

    by slone13

    Time traveling?

  • March 21, 2011, 4:32 p.m. CST

    Put a fucking trailer up for christ's sake

    by stu_pickles

  • March 21, 2011, 4:35 p.m. CST

    Oh, I know why you didnt put one in now...

    by stu_pickles

    Cause it looks like fucking poop

  • March 22, 2011, 12:34 a.m. CST

    chief brody

    by Frank Conniff

    I think that means you are a latent necrophiliac with a paranoid fear of professional bowlers.

  • March 22, 2011, 1:57 a.m. CST

    tv.s_frank

    by Cheif Brody

    There's absolutely nothing latent about my necrophilia, kind sir. The other stuff you are correct about.

  • March 22, 2011, 7:52 a.m. CST

    Balls

    by Two

    This film has them. Big ones. I enjoyed the ride as well, but I did feel like I needed my 15-year-old translator along for the ride. If this is truly the way today's kids process information, then we are in for one hell of a exponential curve in productivity. Or therapy. Or something. This film was approximately like watching 3-9 films simultaneously. I'm personally still processing it, almost a week later. Considering Kahn made something this close to a hard R for a mostly teen audience ("They'll find a way to see it," he says), I do think the director will have a reasonably hard time finding a studio/distributor brave enough to take the risk, but I gotsta give him props for having the balls to give it a try.

  • March 22, 2011, 10:01 a.m. CST

    just saw the trailer, looks interesting...UFO???

    by BikoQue

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHuRyT72t7M&feature=related

  • Feb. 22, 2012, 8:48 p.m. CST

    Montage

    by Hemi23

    If you wanna get real good at something real fast and you haven't got a lot of time you need a......