updated review with special features for the DVD release.
Definitely to be found in the darker spectrum of black comedies, this warped foray into the mind of someone with an unstable mind is presented with brilliant flicks of upbeat comedy, a quirky sunshine outlook and sinister flavours. It also succeeds in gifting it’s lead a bloody and barmy movie to prove himself in and boy does he ever.
Jerry Hickfang (Ryan Reynolds) works at a toilet/bath factory and tries to present himself as normal, though in his own home his instability leads him to hear voices, manifesting through his pets; a psycho cat and a caring dog. Jerry gets a chance to be more normal when his attraction develops with Fiona from accounting (Gemma Arterton) but that goes wrong and a new opportunity with Lisa (Anna Kendrick) could make him go one of two ways.
Marjane Satrapi knocks it out of the park directing this dark humourous tale. The look of the film is careful and works in highlighting the dangerous two sided coin of Jerry’s psyche. She delivers the dark, dingy terrors of Jerry in gross ‘Seven’ like detail and she can also portray the sunnier Disney-esque view Jerry walks about blissfully in without any problems. When we first see the true life it’s shocking and hits hard making you realise just how dark this film can be. Satrapi really shows she has an eye for the presentation and every scene and shot adds to the unbalanced narrative.
Michael R. Perry can also take a bow, his screenplay is magnificent. The strokes of unsettling laughs with genuinely clever humour is genius. The scripting of the pets is perfect, loyalty in the dog being lovingly crafted as dumb yet adorable and the cynic, arrogant mind of a cat being a spot on representation of how felines behave. Perry manages to give each character something to deepen them and he makes the twisted Jerry a likable threat which could be hard to do for others.
The music throughout is wonderfully spirited, songs stride along with the events of the scene in harmony and joyful songs echo the ignorant manner Jerry lives his life in. The song at the end more than makes you realise what a surreal movie this is, I won’t say more than religion and a pink fork lift truck may make for one of the best credit sequences in a long time. Olivier Bernet’s score itself is bubbling away like a troubling cauldron of menace and death, the quick flashes of sound in amongst the quieter moments reflecting the topsy-turvy nature of Jerry as a human being.
It might be a film that could focus more on the serious side of mental patients and the devastating path hearing voices could lead to, it does sort of lighten the topic somewhat, giving the condition laughs more than it should but it’s a film at the end of the day so take it with a pinch of salt and don’t lose your head about it! It does also drift off into a more of a horror tone which doesn’t exactly work, the first half is much better.
Ryan Reynolds stands out as a weirdly sweet individual, his glazed look and near permanent grin speaking volumes when he isn’t speaking. The emotion he can deliver is nice and he can punch out with the scarier shouty side too. It’s assuredly one of his best roles, maybe apart from ‘Buried’ which is amazing. Reynolds also gives voice to the cat and dog with brilliant differing vocals to make them stand out as excellent characters in their own right. Anna Kendrick is not much more than Anna Kendrick but that works for her and her fans so why break tradition? Gemma Arterton plays the UK Reading gal with Brit stiffness in her hot and I know it routine and she’s a meatier character to stick in the fridge and enjoy watching.
A gristly and unusual look at how a human mind can work, laughs and gore fill the plot constantly and it’ll survive the year as one of the weirder more rewarding films to watch.
DVD Special Features:
THE SCAREPRANK – A short but sweet joke about a lady in a fridge scaring the general public. It mirrors the candy fun yet scary side of the main feature but it’s so minimal in time that it hardly warrants the time setting up the prank to place it on the special features.
PET VOICE RECORDING – Seeing Ryan Reynolds providing the actual voices for ‘The Voices’ is a nice eye opener to watch him do lines multiple times to try and nail the right tone for the sweary cat and the dopey dog. It’s great to know that Reynolds wanted the animals to be his own voice reflecting the mental state of Jerry. His characterisation is enunciated even more through his facial expressions, especially when being Bosco.
INTERVIEWS – Reynolds leads us into the backstage chats and his talk about the pets are great, the way he wanted the dog to be like a dumb Southern gentlemen and both are like the angel/devil scenario. It’s clear to see that the actor really knew what Jerry was meant to be and how to bring him to life, both sides of his nature…warts and all. Ryan Reynolds is bang on for saying you do feel for Jerry and you can expect the unexpected with this movie.
Gemma Arterton loved the wonderful originality of the script and it’s interesting to hear what the actress liked about the script when reading it. I’ve always like watching the DVD interviews just because it gives us a chance to hear more from the people actually playing the roles we’ve enjoyed watching. See her interview to hear her state what she thinks about the director.
In Anna Kendrick’s segment, it’s evident that the actress was adamant to take part because of Marjane Satrapi directing. The shocking and unusual is what enticed her further. It’s a running trend that they were keen because of how brilliantly absurd this visually striking movie is.
Marjane Satrapi makes it clear that the biggest challenge was making Jerry the killer lovable from start to finish and that is an engaging prospect because an antihero has to be someone to empathise with and she does this fantastically. Her idea of visuals on the line to whether it’s Jerry’s mind or actual reality is interesting to hear. If she carries on making films like this then she can stride forward as a director to watch.
This is a worthy feature with extra comments from producers and the writer.