Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. For whatever reason this South By has kind of ruled when it comes to comedy. Mike Birbiglia’s Sleepwalk With Me (review pending) knocked me out and became my favorite movie I saw at the fest and Frankie Go Boom, starring Charlie Hunnam and Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids), turned out to be the crowd-pleaser I desperately needed a week into a grueling film festival.
I knew it was a decent bet because Charlie Hunnam was leading this particular circus and that dude has the goods. And I’m saying that as someone who has never seen one episode of Sons of Anarchy, which I hear is fantastic. I knew Hunnam was good when I saw Green Street Hooligans, but it was when the credits rolled on Children of Men and his name popped up that my appreciation for his work skyrocketed. I didn’t recognize him at all. I still don’t remember he’s the white-locks guy when I rewatch, he disappears that fully into that character.
Between Frankie Go Boom and Save the Date I also feel like I’m finally catching up to the Lizzy Caplan love-train. In this film she plays a perfectly messed up girl searching for her white knight (literally) and I’m a sucker for that archetype. I don’t know why I find that so romantic, but I’m an easy, sappy target for that character dynamic.
But the main focus of the story is the worst possible sibling rivalry scenario ever. Chris O’Dowd is the brother we all thank God we don’t have. He’s the fuck up of the family, the one that always has every excuse and gets the maximum amount of leeway from the parents. He kind of has a good heart, but he’s so manipulative and selfish that you can never tell if the goodness is part of his overall act.
O’Dowd’s Bruce is a recovering addict and in a show of support Charlie Hunnam’s Frankie reluctantly returns home for his big “getting out of rehab” party. Of course this means insanity erupts and these two find themselves down the crazy rabbit hole, faced with a leaked sex tape, Mormon producers, a depraved newly sober Steven Segal type (played by Chris Noth), a drowned dog and Ron Perlman in a dress, all while constantly at each other’s throats.
Frankie Go Boom is an absurdist comedy with heart, a film that is hard not to like. Everybody is just so earnest in it and the relationship between Hunnam and Caplan is genuinely sweet, so when the shit really does get weird you’re kind of in for the long haul.
Hunnam is great as the straight man to O’Dowd’s goofball and is at ease with every aspect of the movie, be it comedic or dramatic. In fact, watching this one so close to 21 Jump Street really made me want to see Hunnam and Channing Tatum co-star in a buddy cop movie or something.
Ron Perlman deserves MVP, though. His portrayal of recently transgendered Phyllis is wrong in all the right ways. He somehow plays Ron Perlman In A Dress with vulnerability and cigar-champing toughness. The dude’s talented, what can I say?
Strong writing and direction from Jordan Roberts, a charming love story, some truly hilarious moments, a crazed Lynchian universe and an overall tone of likability really made this one of the more enjoyable films of SXSW. Keep your eyes peeled for it.
I’ll be blazing through some SXSW catch-up reviews this week, which includes my reviews of Cabin in the Woods, Sleepwalk With Me, William Friedkin’s Killer Joe, Clive Owen thriller Intruders, The Aggression Scale, God Bless America and Compliance. There’s also quite a few interviews just about to post, so you’ll be so SXSW’d out by the time I’m done with you!