Current Issue #488

Film Review:

Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion’s nasty but dopey thriller has no less than funnyman Kevin James as a neo-Nazi psycho, and he hams it up with such relish that it’s almost fun to watch – but not quite.

James, who’s never appeared in a role such as this and is best-known for portraying jumbo jokesters in the Paul Blart and Grown Ups movies, is certainly fearsome-looking, but ultimately he’s too dull and unbelievable.

It transpires that he was actually a late-minute fill-in for original star Simon Pegg, who had to drop out but could have given such an ugly character a little depth, credibility or even, perhaps, uncomfortable humour. Or was it always a hopeless case?

Prolific teen player Lulu Wilson is 13 year old Becky Hooper, introduced in an awkward opening flashforward and then depicted, two weeks before that, as a bullied and sour-tempered high school student with serious behavioural problems since the death of her mother a year ago. In a classic bit of poor parenting, Becky’s Dad Jeff (Joel McHale in trying-hard-to-be-nice mode) takes her to the family’s lakefront home without properly revealing that his new partner Kayla (Amanda Brugel) and her young son Ty (Isaiah Rockcliffe) will also be present. And then he seems surprised when she flees into the woods.

While all this is happening, a van improbably carrying four super-hardened crims crashes nearby, and Dominick (Kevin), Apex (giant wrestler-turned-actor Robert Maillet), Cole (Ryan McDonald) and Hammond (James McDougall) then dress up as cops and make their way to the Hooper house. These bad, bad guys are after a key that Becky initially knows nothing about but, in a plot turnaround that everyone could see coming but them, they discover that this surly adolescent is just as dangerous and deadly as they are. The fools! Haven’t they met any teens before?

While there are a few twists here, and an almost rounded characterisation for Maillet (who’s typically cast simply to be a 6’10”/2.08 metre threat), it’s all a bit lame and daft, although there’s considerably more blood and violence than in co-directors Milott and Murnion’s previous pics (the modern-civil-war-actioner Bushwick, the compromised zombie comedy Cooties). You sort of have to respect James for trying something different that could turn off fans of his goofy comedies, and it is a little unsettling seeing him, at first, with a swastika tattooed on his sweaty bonce. But, really, anyone with a crazy stare and a big gut could have played this part.

Come on, America’s full of guys like that!

Reviewer Rating

Becky (MA) is now screening at selected cinemas

DM Bradley

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