Ken with a review of one of the weirdest tractor beam pulls of a movie as I’ve ever seen, titled RELAXER.
RELAXER is a peek into a Midwestern slackers’ self-destructive journey. A journey to not leave the couch under any circumstances, during the buildup to Y2K.
Is it a statement on the impending millennial march towards apathy? Maybe, but it feels a lot more like my life growing up in the 90’s. Where I was glued to the television, trying desperately to beat some pixelated game before any of my friends could. It was all as it turned out quite inconsequential but while I was in it, there was nothing more important on the planet.
RELAXER is my 90’s childhood taken to the extremes. Yet it’s like nothing I’ve seen before.
We follow Abbie (Joshua Burge) a pale, scrawny gamer who won’t leave his leather couch. Older brother Cam (David Dastmalchian) is the one holding him there. It’s not as dire as that sounds. It’s simply ‘brotherly love.’ Cam has ‘challenged’ Abbie to the gallon challenge. Where you drink a gallon of milk under an hour and win the challenge…if you don’t puke. I can personally attest to having completed this challenge. Puking 30 minutes later, when no one was looking and feeling an upset stomach for about 2 weeks after as a result. There was also the weeklong albino’ing of my #2’s, which you probably don’t need to know more about.
These constant challenges between Abbie and Cam, we learn early, are inevitably failed by Abbie. He is ripped into by Cam for continually failing challenges. When Abbie fails the milk challenge as seen in the trailer above, it’s like “Lard Ass” all over again.
It’s an eruption of spewing laugh inducing, hard to swallow, gruel. That somehow slaps a smile on your face.
The movie never leaves the couch either. We’re stuck with Abbie through the disaster that is the milk challenge. We root for him as he begs for another chance at success. And if you’re geeky enough, realize the futility of his next challenge before it’s even begun. Defeat level 256 of “Pac-Man,” without of course, leaving the couch.
Joshua Burge plays Abbie to perfection, meaning he’s a greasy disgusting slob that we end up endeared to. Joel Potrykus (writer/director) takes a silly idea and plays it deadpan serious. The story should mire down in the slop it surrounds itself with, yet is saved by the performances of each actor we see (4) and incredibly crisp writing. Joel has likened his movie to his ultimate dream of doing nothing each day, simply playing video games and munching. However, he’s created a bit more of a nightmare. RELAXER soothes you and then confuses you. It shows you where it’s headed then adds all types of flavors so the dish doesn’t taste anything like you assumed it would.
Abbie may be the star of this show but without the energy infused entrance of Dallas (Andre Hyland), I think it doesn’t land as smooth. He and Abbie have a great back and forth that feels natural and biting. These guys have been friends for a long time. Dallas accepts Abbie’s penchant for idle living and Abbie accepts Dallas’ dickhead charm. It’s a match made in loveseat heaven.
Except I promise you, you don’t want anywhere near this loveseat. Abbie never gets up, even to use the bathroom. He licks his own sweat in an attempt to stay hydrated, throws up multiple times, has a stream of shit thrown in his face, and to top it all off, Domino’s pizza won’t deliver to him. What’s the guy to do? He’s starving and desperate.
To tell you more would ruin the film. You will leave this one feeling very akin to GREASY STRANGLER, if you dared that film. In that, you will question what the fuck you just saw, while against all your better instincts, enjoying the hell out of the weirdness on screen.
Joel Potrykus is a visionary director. BUZZARD (also starring Joshua Burge) is also unlike anything you’ve seen. He makes unpredictable movies out of the nostalgia of his youth.
And RELAXER is unpredictable to the nth degree. Three fourths of the film follows a very simple formula. That ending though is completely done in bug-nuts fashion. There will be a lot of folks that will watch this film and feel they wasted 91 minutes of their lives. Then there’s folks like me, who love someone toying with my mind and delivering something I wasn’t expecting.
RELAXER is playing nationwide in theaters now. Seek it out, like you pursue the weird, wild, and unknown.
7 out of 10 gamers smell like sweaty Cheetos
Til next time Kids
Ken Lewis (AKA: Freddy Beans)
Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org