Netflix Mini-Review – Mr. Right: This Was So Close To Amazing

I caught a hitman comedy I missed from 2015 and it really should have been good.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Martha McKay (Anna Kendrick) is recently single and slightly crazy. Professional hitman “Clown Nose” (Sam Rockwell) is recently getting out of the contract killing game by murdering all of his clients and is extremely crazy. Clown Nose is being hunted by a former associate, Hopper (Tim Roth). Martha and Clown Nose (AKA Mr. Right) meet and the two hit it off solidly. Despite both of their odd natures, they quickly develop affection. Unfortunately, Mr. Right gets caught up in a scheme involving the mobsters Von Cartigan and Richard Cartigan (James Ransone and Anson Mount) and their henchmen Johnny Moon and Steve (Michael Eklund and the RZA), with Martha getting dragged along with him.

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Wuv, twue wuv.

END SUMMARY

Somehow, I didn’t hear about this film when it came out, but apparently it just got added to Netflix and I decided to give it a shot. Unfortunately, it turns out that there was a reason why this movie didn’t get on my radar before now. It’s not that this movie was really “bad” in the way that, say, Gigli is bad, it’s that this movie should, by most metrics, have been awesome, yet it really isn’t.

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I mean, Sam Rockwell in a clown nose shooting people should be amazing.

I love Grosse Pointe Blank, Deadpool, Pulp Fiction, John Wick, and even Shoot ‘Em Up, so I can say that I have a certain fondness for the humorous hitman genre. I’m also a huge fan of Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick, including the former’s role in Seven Psychopaths, and the pair have a ridiculous amount of chemistry in this film. Despite the fact that the movie almost completely relies on them falling in love at basically first sight, you can feel the spark between them vividly enough to buy it. Similarly, despite their extreme eccentricities, their performances somehow make it seem believable. The RZA and Rockwell have a similar chemistry as “frenemies.” The hitman scenes are extremely comically violent, although in a rated-R way, something that usually works well for me.  

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Martha has a solid character arc… mostly?

However, the movie manages to fall flat on its face. First, the pacing is terrible. The movie has to rush through their courtship in order to make sure that we can have an entire third act dedicated to action sequences. The problem is that I genuinely enjoy watching them interact and I think that more time would have worked to the movie’s benefit. Second, like all movie hitmen, Mr. Right is hyper accurate and somehow can’t be hit by return fire, but this movie takes that way beyond the normal suspension of disbelief. He’s basically got superpowers and it really takes the audience out of it at times. Third, the plot is slightly more complicated than it needs to be, due to the simultaneous and separate plotlines involving Mr. Right and Martha, Hopper, and the mobsters. Then there are like 3 short subplots that also don’t help matters. Lastly, the dialogue is… well, it’s Max Landis’s college screenplay, so that probably explains why it doesn’t quite work most of the time.  

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The whole “Dancing to Dodge Gunfire” thing seems great on paper, I guess.

Overall, the problem with this movie isn’t that it’s bad, but that it could so easily have been really great with minor changes. 

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Halloween Review – Funny Games (2007): The Scariest Thing Is Us

A fourth-wall breaking movie about two psychopaths playing with a random family. It’s a comedy, clearly.

SUMMARY

George Farber (Tim Roth), his wife Ann (Naomi Watts), and their son Georgie (Devon Gearheart) are staying at their lake house for a vacation. When they arrive, they discover that their neighbor Fred (Boyd Gaines) has a few guests, Peter and Paul (Brady Corbet and Michael Pitt). The two new guests come over to borrow some eggs, but they end up making the Farbers feel uncomfortable. When finally asked to leave, the pair attack the Farbers and hold them hostage, torturing them physically and psychologically and all because it’s fun for them, and for the audience. Peter frequently discusses film trends and tropes, while Paul literally breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience. 

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And yes, the bad guys are dressed like ultra-yuppies.

END SUMMARY

This is a remake of the 1997 film of the same name, but it was by the same director, Michael Haneke. The only major differences are budget, language, and the caliber of actors involved. Not that the cast in the original Austrian film are bad, quite the contrary, but the cast here really sell the film. While the violence is, if not toned down, then at least changed a bit, most of the scenes in this movie are lifted directly from the original, from the lines (albeit translated) to the camera angles to the sets. While that might sound like Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho, let me assure you that this movie is actually good. Also, Haneke’s copying himself, so I think that doesn’t count as a rip-off.

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And both are amazingly well-shot. 

The big thing about this movie is that it’s pretty much designed to be the opposite of expectations. That’s exactly what Haneke was going with in the original and this carries the same theme. The idea behind the movie is that it’s violent, but there is no underlying meaning or purpose to anything in the film. It’s supposed to be a critique of violence in media being meritless, and how we somehow forgive certain violent acts in film as long as they’re done in the “right” way. We’re fine with Clint Eastwood gunning down a town full of people or watching Jason Vorhees massacre a group of horny teens, because those are the “approved” kinds of violence. In modern narratives, violence is permissible as long as it’s either redemptive (i.e. John McClane dropping Hans Gruber off of a skyscraper) or punitive (i.e. the T-Rex eating the bad guys), but this film defies that by having all of the violence enacted upon pretty much innocent people for no reason. 

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Yes, EVEN ON THE KID.

Beyond that, the movie doesn’t try to get us to blame the two sociopaths for doing these things, but instead has Paul keep winking at the camera, literally, and ask us what we want, pointing out that the reason why there’s so much violence in the media is because we desire that. Moreover, it asks us to ask ourselves WHY we desire it? What the hell is wrong with us that we’re not disturbed by watching John Wayne kill thirty men, even if they deserved it? If we’re justifying it by saying those people aren’t real, then why would it disturb us when these people are tortured and murdered in this film? The point of this movie is that we really need to ask ourselves why we’re so okay with violence. As a fan of action and horror movies, I usually just say it’s part of a natural catharsis, but it’s not like this isn’t a question people have asked for millennia. This is just a fairly original way to ask it again.

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Yes, he’s literally asking you a question. It’s awesome.

The reason why this works so well is because this movie is really well done. Any art film can ask a philosophical question and pretend that it’s deep, but Michael Haneke focused on making an intense and interesting film first, then building the message organically into the story. The cinematography is first class, the dialogue is compelling despite being awkward, and the performances are all great. A weirdly notable thing about the movie is that nobody looks good in it. Everyone looks like they’re under stress and half-beaten when they’re supposed to be, but not in the way that Hollywood actors usually portray “tired.” These people look like they’re at the ends of their ropes, and I appreciate that they were willing to be shot that way, like they’re actual humans in this situation. 

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Yes, even the kid can look like crap. It’s weird that this is rare.

This is a horror movie, but it’s not a traditional one. Even the director says it wasn’t intended to be, but what else would you call a movie that not only shows you something revolting, but leads you to ask yourself why you wanted to watch that? Really, I recommend everyone watch this at least once, because it truly is a unique movie… except that there are two of them, I guess. 

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Also, they both include the best use of a remote in film.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.