SXSW FILM 2012
By Don Simpson | March 17, 2012
Director: Jordan Roberts
Writer: Jordan Roberts
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Chris O’Dowd, Lizzy Caplan, Chris Noth, Ron Perlman, Sam Anderson, Whitney Cummings, Justin Dray, Nora Dunn, Leonard Kelly-Young, Kate Luyben, David Marciano, Adam Pally, Sarah Rush
The prologue of writer-director Jordan Roberts’ frankie goes boom starts things off with amazing comedic panache. We watch an early home movie “directed” by a prepubescent Bruce in which his brother Frankie goes boom into a trap in their backyard. Flash forward about 20 years later, Frankie (Charlie Hunnam) has exiled himself to Death Valley in the hopes of finishing a novel. It also seems Frankie grew sick and tired of Bruce (Chris O’Dowd) filming every mistake, embarrassment and catastrophe of his entire life. The final straw occurred a few years ago when Bruce uploaded a video of Frankie’s disastrous wedding onto YouTube for the entire world to see. Frankie has not spoken to Bruce ever since.
But then Frankie receives a phone call from his mother informing him that Bruce is graduating from rehab; so Frankie decides to bite the proverbial bullet and attend Bruce’s ceremony. While visiting his hometown, Frankie fatefully bumps into Lassie (Lizzy Caplan) — well, technically Lizzy crashes into Frankie while attempting to ride her bicycle drunk. Lizzie almost immediately passes out in the middle of the street — oh, and she is only wearing sexy panties and an edible bra. Frankie, being the nice guy that he is, loads Lizzie into the backseat of his car and waits for her to regain consciousness. When Lizzie awakens, she is feeling frisky; so they decide to spend the night together in the shack behind Frankie’s family home. Frankie is unable to perform — unfortunately for him, Bruce clandestinely documents the embarrassing fiasco and immediately posts the footage online. The video is a sensation and utter mayhem ensues…
frankie goes boom cleverly mocks Hollywood and the notion that anyone with an HD camcorder is a director. Roberts also addresses modern society’s desire to record and post everything on YouTube, and how therefore our notion of fame has been significantly altered. The desire to document and share everything is like an addiction — in other words, Bruce conquers his chemical addiction only to return to his filmmaking addiction. Roberts’ only critique that seems way too easy and over-simplified is that of the Christian movie producers.
As if the promise of a film starring Chris O’Dowd and Lizzy Caplan is not reason enough to watch frankie goes boom, there is an added bonus of witnessing Ron Perlman portray a transgender woman named Phyllis. Sure, the Phyllis character feels a bit cartoonish (and borderline offensive), but how often do you get to see Hellboy donning full drag? Chris Noth also clocks in an intriguing turn as a fallen movie star who befriended Bruce while in rehab.
I am still a wee bit freaked out by Charlie Hunnam and Chris O’Dowd’s American accents. The casting of two actors from the British Isles in the leading roles seems somewhat odd to me. I found O’Dowd’s accent to be more convincing than Hunnam’s, but I was constantly distracted by the sounds emanating from both of their mouths.