"I take orders from the Octoboss."


BUSHWICK is an oh-shit-what-if movie. It uses the intimate perspective of one handheld camera – mostly following one character in ROPE-style long takes edited to look like one shot – to show what it would feel like to suddenly find your neighborhood under attack. It doesn’t have the limitations of found footage, but it reminds me of CLOVERFIELD in the way it plunges us into the chaos, not really knowing what’s going on, running through hoping not to get killed, seeing and hearing mayhem going on down the street, or on the next block down. People running, screaming, cars screeching by peppering buildings with gun shots, snipers on the roofs, explosions in the distance.

There’s no science fiction here. This is a guerrilla attack. Ski-masked gunmen, other people shooting back, the factions unclear at first. The reason for the attack has been widely discussed – it was the first thing I read about the movie, and part of why I was excited about it – but since it plays as a big reveal I’ll save it for the back end of the review.

The movie follows Lucy (Brittany Snow, PROM NIGHT remake), a white girl coming to the titleistical New York neighborhood to visit her grandmother. But she and her boyfriend Jose (Arturo Castro, BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK) emerge from the subway and find themselves in a literal war zone, and he is the first casualty. Treated as an outsider in the mostly black neighborhood, Lucy is quickly grabbed by two not-well-meaning locals and dragged into a house (some rare DEATH WISH bullshit in an otherwise pro-urban movie). But then Stupe (Dave Bautista, HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN), the guy who actually lives in the house, comes in to grab his things, sees them and kills them.

Stupe is a stoic ex-military guy already switched over to survival mode. Against his wishes Lucy latches onto him for protection. They travel together, sometimes pushing garbage dumpsters as shields, taking cover behind cars. They try to get to her grandma, try to find shelter, try to get guns to locals who want to fight back. They both get horribly wounded, and there’s some of the most painful self surgery I’ve seen. They start to like each other. They find Lucy’s sister Belinda (Angelic Zambrana, PRECIOUS, FIGHTING, EMPIRE STATE), who has been high and napping and didn’t know this was going on. (I’m not sure about the part where she tries to get with Stupe. Seems like not a good time for that.)

I read an interview where Bautista said “I am not extremely proud of my performance” because he thinks he’s improved since filming it, but I think it’s a new level for him. It’s a naturalistic, improv style, though he’s still doing much of it without many words. He also cries. He’s very good.

The main selling point for me is that it stars Bautista and it’s co-written by Nick Damici, the star of LATE PHASES and star/co-writer of COLD IN JULY, STAKE LAND, WE ARE WHAT WE ARE and more. This one he wrote with Graham Reznick, best known as a sound designer for indie horror movies including STAKE LAND, THE INNKEEPERS and THE MIND’S EYE. This one is directed by Cary Murnion & Jonathan Milott (COOTIES), but I think it has some overlap with the tone of Damici’s movies with Jim Mickle. And like STAKE LAND it has a gruff, experienced tough guy helping a young stranger survive and understand the nightmare scenario they’re in and forming a bond in the process. More than that it makes me think of the first Mickle/Damici movie, MULBERRY ST, another low budget, run-and-gun movie about a band of New Yorkers trying to survive a sudden, shocking attack on their neighborhood (in that case by zombie rat-people – long story).

MULBERRY ST was about urban community. The main characters are a diverse group of long time residents about to be pushed out of their building by rich developers. They all know and help each other before the shit goes down. BUSHWICK shows a more divided population. At first it seems to promote the common (especially in the ’80s) stereotype of a neighborhood where street people circle like hungry sharks waiting for some innocent to get off at the wrong subway stop so they can rob or rape them. But after that opening we see people teaming up more, even exhibiting a sense of neighborhood pride in their fight against the enemy, who I will now discuss.



So, at least halfway through the movie, Stupe captures an attacking soldier in Belinda’s apartment and forces him to disclose what’s going on. It turns out some people from Texas and other southern states are staging an uprising to force the government to allow Texas to secede from the union. A new civil war. They didn’t actually expect to do all this killing, because they didn’t expect this much resistance. They had figures about how many households here had guns, and it was not supposed to be this many! (See, maybe if you bozos allowed some gun control more of them would be in the hands of responsible people who don’t let theirs pour into the black market.)

The crucial thematic detail: they thought this neighborhood would be an easy target because of “ethno-diversity.” On one level I think that means the in-fighting we saw would weaken their defenses. But more than that it signals the invasion’s basis in racism and the central philosophical disagreement they’re fighting over here. They believe diversity is a weakness, we believe it’s a strength. To me that’s the kind of underlying truth that makes a far-fetched premise sing.

I watched BUSHWICK the night it came out on VOD and I didn’t write a whole review back then because a storm was about to hit Texas and I didn’t want to be pointing fingers at Texans. And as Stupe says when he hears a list of the states involved, there are good people in all of them. But even just waiting a month the subject has gotten even more relevant. The other day as I’m writing this the White House Chief of Staff, a four-star general previously portrayed by the media as the sane guy keeping Trump in check, gave an interview where he spewed a bunch of dumb Confederacy-coddling bullshit. You don’t want to sit around all day being ashamed that our country was built on slavery – fine. But be proud that it ended! Instead we have a segment of the country – some of them (Trump, Hannity, Kelly) not even coming from Confederate states – raised to be bitter about a war that happened long before they were born. They’ll distance themselves from their ancestors to wash their hands of institutional racism (“I never had slaves!”), then turn around and take it personally if we don’t want to glorify that motherfuckers with statues (“It’s our heritage!”)

And that’s just one of the things our country is divided about. The modern media landscape – both by intentional construction of the right wing and negligent accident of social media – keeps people of different political persuasions living in different realities. Choose the red pill or the blue pill. Do you want to know more? The disagreements seem to get more and more intractable. It doesn’t seem quite as hyperbolic as it used to that people would want to make Texas into its own country where nobody gets mad when black people get shot and if they do they sure as shit aren’t allowed to protest it during the football game. Come to think of it it would be very hard for the people who seceded from the United States to stop accusing people of disrespecting the stars and stripes. Would they know how to come up with new patriotic slogans and stuff for their country, or would they still be using “these colors don’t run” and shit? Hopefully we’ll never know.

I hadn’t been to the south until my first trip to Tennessee a couple years ago. I’ve been to that state three times now, and I love it. I spent time in Knoxville (where I glimpsed Burt Reynolds from afar), I went to Dollywood two times, downtown Nashville once and I especially enjoyed downtown Memphis. One of the reasons I need to go back is that I didn’t have time to tour the National Civil Rights Museum. I did see the outside, though – it’s the Lorraine Motel, maintained so that you can walk up and see the balcony where Martin Luther King was assassinated. They even have vintage cars in the parking lot, so you stand there and it’s like you’ve walked into a historic photo. Not only did I feel the enormity of what happened there, but I became hyper-aware of my surroundings. I got chills as I thought about the assassin hiding somewhere behind me, aiming his gun right there, perhaps so angry at the idea of someone else getting more rights that he was going to sacrifice a normal life to slow down that progress.

And later, within walking distance of the museum, I came across a confederate statue and felt deep shame. Nobody else in the park was white, and here I was walking past a monument to this asshole. I read that the population of Memphis is 63% black, only 29% white, and it’s the only place I’ve experienced being in crowds with almost no white people. How can they justify honoring the “history” and “heritage” of people who waged war against the United States to preserve the tradition of enslaving Africans, whose descendants now fill the city?

My belief is that the South has enough diversity that “Souther pride” shouldn’t be just for white people, and enough to be proud of that they don’t have to pad their resume with shit involving horrific oppression. It could be about all the great country and blues and rock n roll, the food and the sweet tea and the writers and the hospitality (a real thing, I experienced it) and the whisky and plenty of other positive things. Why the fuck would you focus on that one time some of your ancestors lost a war for a despicable cause? You’re better than that, is my argument.

I don’t know where we go from here. I’m sure as shit never gonna back down on “slavery is indefensible,” and there are other people who aren’t gonna back down on the “well, actually” side, and now we have the biggest fucking slimeball anybody ever heard of straddled atop America poking at those divisions with a stick trying to make ’em worse. And literally every day this vaguely human-shaped ball of disgrace displays some new ignorance of what a president does, what our country stands for, what the Constitution he swore to uphold even is. He flouts every law he can, insults the people who enforce it, also insults the black people he says insult the people who enforce it, tells his cult-like followers that the sky is orange, up is left and shit is ice cream, and they respond by saying “thank you daddy,” licking his boots and begging for more. This is a guy who openly asked Russia to interfere with the election, openly uses the office to enrich himself, openly obstructed justice and then confessed to it on television, all crimes worthy of impeachment at minimum, and if you don’t believe that a slight nudge of any one of his golden closets will cause the door to burst open and bury you in skeletons then I don’t know what to tell you. Don’t ever call anybody naive or gullible again in your life.

So, as the other conspirators start singing, if it seems like the arguably-semi-plausible-by-Fox-News-standards-deniability approach to high treason isn’t gonna be as fool-proof as he was told, I genuinely worry about the conflict it could cause in our country. Don’t get me wrong, we have to get rid of the fucker for sure, but what kind of hornet’s nest will we be kicking? Will the GOP, who have happily covered for him so far, even respect the rule of law? Seems like, at best, a coin toss. And if we luck out and it comes up heads, how will the people who see the world through the Fox News lens, who believe that all of the news they don’t want to hear is fake, who stock up on guns every time a Democrat gets into office because this time for sure is gonna be the time when they actually take the guns away, respond to his cries to “DO SOMETHING!”? I don’t really see it going down like in BUSHWICK, but I genuinely fear some sort of outrageous extra-Constitutional power grab to avoid prosecution, or scattered lone wolf attacks by misguided redhats if he goes down.

Whatever does happen, who wouldn’t want to be on Dave Bautista’s team? We know that all cities and neighborhoods and races count as “ordinary Americans,” and that is our strength. Together we’ll take a stand for our neighborhoods, our cities, our country, our ideals. And if we get out of this clean we will have the biggest party of our lives.

Which brings me to the ENDING SPOILERS. If you’ve seen this you already know that there is no party. Although the secession plans do not seem to be working out, things don’t end well for our heroes either. Unfortunately this lowers the movie in my estimation. Not just because I want to be optimistic about the situation in our country, not just because it’s a bummer to get to like these characters and then lose them, not just because it would be kinda cool for Bautista to return for a BUSHWICK 2 as the conflict escalates, but because it just doesn’t feel like a good payoff to the story.

We went through all that just for this? Damn. I hope the real ending is more satisfying.

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 2nd, 2017 at 5:35 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

48 Responses to “Bushwick”

  1. I’ve been a reader of your work for years, but have never taken the time to comment on any of it. Today, I break that tradition. Thank you not only for your great review, but your poignant words on our country’s political climate.

  2. And the dumbest thing about defending slavery, beyond the racism and barbarity of it of course, was that as GOODBYE UNCLE TOM points out, it was a woefully inefficient method versus just having paid servants, all that suffering and misery which continues on even into 21st century America was literally entirely pointless.

    And while I think it’s ok to make a movie like GODS AND GENERALS about the Confederacy (although I haven’t seen it in a long time and don’t know if it holds up), they are absolutely not men worthy of being honored by statues and monuments.

    And I say this as someone who has spent their entire life living in the south, like you said Vern, we have way more to be proud of than that.

    As for this movie, I haven’t seen it yet, but nothing about the premise strikes me being far fetched at all really, in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if something like that happens someday, though here’s hoping it doesn’t.

  3. Thank you Newtons Peer. Much appreciated.

  4. Cripes. I’ve lived in Austin for eleven years now and my joke is that Texas is like Night of the Living Dead: full of creatures who will tear you apart because you’re not like them. And Austin is the farmhouse that people go to in order to escape them. Lately, tho, I can’t help thinking of Austin as the New Alamo. “We don’t want this! Send more guns!”

  5. Never heard of that movie and I’m a bit hesitant to check it out, because COOTIES was awful, but I have to admit that it does sound interesting, although also fucking terrifying in today’s climate.

    Here in Germany, shit isn’t THAT bad yet. Like I said a while ago, in our last election, some new right wing we-are-not-Nazis-although-we-say-Nazi-things party became the third strongest, but so far they are a (sad and scary) joke who can’t get anything done, other than internal fights, acting like victims who get constantly discriminated by the evil, evil liberal media and apologizing in public for shitty things one of them said. But of course the whole Trump thing taught us that this shit can get ugly quick.

  6. I’m Team Camp Cooties is solid and fun.

  7. “There’s no science fiction here.”

    No? How else do you explain our heroine getting off an L train at Church Ave on the FG track in Kensington (where the L has never gone and will never go) and then coming aboveground in Bushwick, roughly seven miles away? If not alien matter-beaming technology, then what? Magic?

    I kid because it was the one misstep in Brooklyn verisimilitude (well, maybe that exposed open hatchway–accessible backyards are not a Brooklyn thing) and it was the first post-opening credits shot in the movie, especially when it seems they could have easily CGIed out the Church Ave signs (also weird they didn’t use Hoyt-Schermerhorn just a few stops north, which has an unused track where they shot THE WARRIORS and pretty much every other subway station scene you’ve ever seen) and not instantly alienate New Yorkers. But that was some real Brooklyn geography in the rest of the movie, especially the weird, condensed suburban feel you get deeper into the borough, all spindly gates and brick stoops. I had flashbacks of lots of long, cold walks on some of these shots. I don’t miss living in the city but I do miss walking those streets.

    Anyway, yeah, this was a solid movie. The style was immersive and the characters were endearing without much in the way of backstory or drama. I liked seeing Brittany Snow cowboy up over the course of the story, and Bautista did a solid job with that monologue, which could have broken many a more experienced actor.

    My favorite part was the little vignette with the Hasidic hit squad. Totally realistic. There’s no way anybody is getting those guys out of their homes. The hipsters couldn’t do it, the real estate developers couldn’t do it, there’s no way some out-of-town pricks could do it. I truly believe these guys have a stockpile of shotguns and molotov cocktails for just such an occasion. Texas picked the wrong bizarro religious sect to fuck with.

    I can see where they’re going with the ending. It’s not entirely satisfying, but I don’t think it should be. It’s like Bautista was saying: You can go to war for all the right reasons but it never makes anything better. There’s no happy ending to this story. It’s maybe the cynical, easy resolution but I think it works.

  8. Also whoever decided not to call this RED STATE DAWN should be ashamed of themselves.

  9. Crushinator Jones

    November 3rd, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    My fear is that pathologizing Trump as some unique aberration and not just A Republican Who Says the Quiet Parts Loud is ultimately harmful. Trump is a dipshit idiot but, so far, he’s not even close to George W Bush, who (just a reminder) killed at least 200,000 Iraqis and 3,000 Americans while letting his war profiteer VP loot a country and destabilize an entire region of the world, leading to literally millions of deaths.

  10. ..not to mention that the game of RISK Bush was playing was directly responsible in some ways to the great refugee crisis of the past years. Thanks a lot, America for the destablization.

  11. Crushinator Jones

    November 3rd, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Well, Obama dropped over 26,000 bombs in 2016. That didn’t help.

  12. Crushinator Jones

    November 3rd, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Don’t get me wrong Bush is an enormous piece of shit who should be in the Hague but Obama continuing his drone and interventionist policies and thus getting staunch party-first Dems to buy into that shit is monstrous in its own way.

  13. Mr. Majestyk – it’s funny how similar the premise is to RED DAWN but how telling the difference is, in RED DAWN the threat was a foreign force, in present day America however we are our own worst enemies.

    I want to emphasize how believable the premise of this movies sounds to me, I would not at all be surprised if something like this really happens, so many conservatives are so fucking deranged these days.

  14. Oh good, here’s Crush to let us know that both sides are just as bad and say “drooones” in a spooky Halloween voice.

  15. Yeah, Obama’s drones are overshadowed by like, everything about Trump’s existence.

    And let’s put things in perspective, drone strikes are better than full scale invasions and occupations, which is what Bush did.

  16. The middle east was bombed throughout the Clinton presidency as well. It’s not about who’s president, it’s about what Brother Ali called our “billion dollar a week kill-brown-people habit”. The fact that democrats have not been able to fix this issue is something that we really do need to grapple with as progressives. ….That said, Crush, I think it’s weird to compare an 8 year legacy with Trump’s first 9 months, and only focus on one

    Anyway…awesome piece Vern, and thank you for acknowledging the fact that the south is home to a great deal of black culture and it’s shitty to always see it represented by white racists. Both by the racists themselves who want to marginalize if not exterminate black culture, and by misguided liberals who associate the south only with the racists and not the sometimes majority of black people that actually call it home.

  17. To be clear, I think it matters tremendously who holds the office of president. I think even the designs of well-intentioned, principled, and brilliant individuals such as Obama are buffeted by a pretty vast and monolithic corporatocracy.

    Having a psychopath as president is a fucking nightmare in an era that was already scary enough, but nitpicking about is Trump REALLY the worst thing of all time or just the 2nd or 3rd or etc, is a luxury we don’t really have in my opinion. There’s a continuum of bullshit right now threatening the future of our species from nuclear war to superbacteria and not to mention the internet is about to get totally overrun by cybercrime at the same time as we put it completely in charge of our culture, identities, elections, and self-driving cars. So let’s not fight about who has the exact right opinion about what is the most horrible aspect of all this, and try to come up with solutions.

  18. America’s problems unfortunately go much deeper than Trump. At the very least, Republicans have stood by while right-wing media stirred up insane conspiracy theories and explicit racism, hoping this will fire up their base so that they can then cut taxes on businesses and dismantle our public institutions. Even someone as dangerous as Trump doesn’t change this game plan for the vast majority of Republicans. And at this point, there are enough extremists in office that they’re not far removed from Trump’s brand of jingoism and xenophobia.

    This has been going on for decades, and it’s not only the fault of Republicans. Centrist media outlets have played the “both sides do it” form of false equivalency for years. There are plenty of problems with the Democratic party, but compared to Republicans they are at least interested in policy. This got so bad during the run up to the Iraq War that the “liberal New York Times” broke a number of ethical rules of journalism in order to shill for Bush’s invasion. It’s no wonder that people have lost faith in the “msm.”

    There are a number of institutions that have failed us in the last twenty years or more, both because of public divestment as well as the ineffectual leaders who run those institutions. There really is a rot at the center of the country, and centrist Democrats like Clinton and Obama have been completely blind to what’s been going on.

  19. And Griff, the idea that slavery was an inefficient economic system has been thoroughly debunked in recent decades by historians. Over the centuries, slave owners developed more and more ways to wring out as much labor as possible from their slaves. This meant better means of record keeping and weights and measurements as well as crueler means of punishing less productive slaves. In fact, when slavery was over, the South was not able to produce crops at the same rate as before. It’s nice to think that a more moral system is also a better system economically, but that’s not the case. (At least it’s not the case for the slave owners. It’s certainly a better economic system for the laborer.) But a slave owner had every reason to continue the institution of slavery for as long as possible. Check out Edward Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told.

    I think this idea that slavery was inefficient comes from two places. One is that we don’t want to face the fact that slavery could exist in a liberal, capitalist democracy. But reducing labor costs and increasing productivity, even if it means treating people like animals, makes absolute sense from the perspective of a capitalist plantation owner. The idea that slavery was an inefficient system also comes from people who like to believe that slavery would have ended on its own if America didn’t have a Civil War. It’s an apologist stance for the Confederacy. But as we know now, there would have been no economic incentive for the South to abandon slavery. Unless there was some sort of global boycott of cotton made from slave labor, meaning people putting human rights above economic interests, then I’m not convinced that the South would have given up slavery for generations.

  20. To be clear, I was not at all trying to say that slavery would have “gone away on it’s own” I think it would have stayed because of racism, because whites simply got off on treating non-whites as property.

    But if it’s not true that it wasn’t also an inefficient system that’s unfortunate.

  21. I may be naive but I’m sure in 2017 there wouldn’t be slavery of Civil War never happened

  22. first of all, thanks for this piece Vern. it always makes me happy when you Tell’s It Like It Is, and as a former longtime resident of Bushwick i am happy this movie makes that neighborhood’s multi-ethnic fabric a crucial point of its theme and plot. wasn’t gonna check it out but i will now.

    less happily: Sternshein, there is still slavery in 2017. human trafficking most literally,
    but the way that corporations leverage the need and interest of developing nations (and that includes China) to participate in the manufacturing end of globalized capitalist enterprise could be included in a broader definition of what slavery is too.

  23. Vern, I just wish you found a better way than writing manually.

  24. Griff–It’s an understandable belief. And from what I understand, it was taken as a fact that labor paid for was more efficient than slave labor for a long time. And I think it’s only been in recent history when historians have looked at the actual record that it’s become clear that slavery was an efficient capitalist system. A lot of this goes back to Adam Smith who argued against slavery because of its supposed inefficiency. And, weirdly enough, slave owners would claim that they made little money off of slaves and that they were doing these enslaved people a favor by owning them and working them to death.

    I guess my point is, if we want to argue against slavery, we have to look at something other than strictly economics, which can be used to justify all sorts of terrible actions. And like Psychic Hits said, slavery is still very much present today. And it’s not just sex trafficking. Fishing in southeast Asia relies heavily on slave labor. I occasionally eat seafood, so it’s likely that I consume food that was the product of slave labor.

  25. Crushinator Jones

    November 6th, 2017 at 9:13 am


    I’m sorry that my discussion of Obama’s incredibly violent, destructive foreign policy and the complete collapse of the Democratic party nationally under his stewardship counts as “both sides are bad” and “drooones”. Take heart! After seven more years of Trump my continuous rage will most likely have ruptured half the blood vessels in my brain, killing me and thus sparing you more of my tiresome posting of troublesome facts.

    To paraphrase Shaun King: I have never seen a group lose so much, at such a high cost, and remain downright indignant and self-righteous about criticism.

  26. I find it hard to believe Trump makes it through two terms.

    I’m also pretty sure I’m just going to be an independent because I can’t trust Democrats to get their act together and I know the Republicans stand for most things I’m against. My vote will always go to whomever isn’t a complete asshole.

  27. Crushinator Jones

    November 6th, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Sternshein, If Trump doesn’t make it through two terms it will be because his brain disease makes him start saying “great..wonderful…the best…fantastic” over and over like a skipping record, or he just quits because he’s a fat lazy idiot. It won’t be because he can’t win in 2020. He could definitely win in 2020, with the state the Dem party is in now (obviously losing some more Senate seats in 2018 and failing to gain much control in midterms may cause them to re-evaluate, again, but if they didn’t do it after 2016 I doubt there’s much hope.)

  28. I have just one question: Does Bushwick Bill make a cameo and/or perform the closing credits song?

  29. Aesop Rock (who does the entire score, and is awesome) does the credits song (it’s from a recent album of his, not a new song for the movie, but the production fits in perfectly with what he did on the score, which I’ve been listening to nonstop for the past few days) but Bushwick Bill would have been an inspired choice for at least a guest verse. Not only does he take his name from the Brooklyn neighborhood, he’s one of the pioneers of Texas hip-hop, so he could rap about both sides of the divide. Or maybe his alter ego Chuckwick could take one side and his actual, legal, this-is-what-the-government-has-on-file name (I am not making this up) “Dr. Wolfgang Von Bushwickin the Barbarian Mother Funky Stay High Dollar Billstir” could take the other. The duality of man and all that shit. Two points of view, one eyeball. It’s perfect.

  30. Crushinator Jones

    November 6th, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Mr Majestyk, you have made me a fan of Bushwick Bill’s style. It’s been a good day for recommendations.

  31. That’s what I’m here for. This discussion made me listen to Bill’s first solo album for the first time in (seriously) 25 years, when I shoplifted this shit on fuckin’ cassette, and goddamn the bassline on the title track is fuckin’ my head up. I bet that’s Mike Dean playing it, who unbelievably went from Rap-A-Lot’s in-house engineer to one of the biggest hitmakers in mainstream hip-hop.

  32. dag, this shit knocks!

  33. You probably won’t see this until the recent comments are fixed But this is now streaming on Netflix.

  34. You guys see BECKY? I liked BECKY. A strong cast, an interesting and unique henchman/main villain relationship, some satisfying ultraviolence, and an earnest but not overwrought attempt to address (if not explore) the psychopathology of a supposedly sympathetic character who could wreak the kind of carnage Becky wreaks in this picture. And there’s a “How badass is she speech?” for a tween girl, so it is fluent in action film grammar. That’s three films in a row that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed (COOTIES, BUSHWICK, BECKY) from this directing team of pleasant-looking white guys who look like they should be named Josh and Seth who I can never differentiate from all the other directing teams of pleasant-looking white guys who look like they should be named Josh and Seth. Whichever ones they are, they’re doing good work.

  35. As the guy, who kept telling you years ago that Kevin James has a scary villain role in him, as soon as he stops working on his pension plan through easy Sandler gang paychecks, I am very excited for BECKY, although COOTIES (aka OMG THIS IS GONNA BE AN INSTANT CULT MOVIE Y’ALL, WHAT DO YOU MEAN, “IT’S NOT VERY GOOD”, IT HAS TV STARS AND GORE AND STONER JOKES, WHY ISN’T IT THE NEW SHAUN OF THE DEAD ALREADY #12654585) wasn’t really something that I was too fond of. BUSHWICK has been sitting on my shelf for a while, but y’know, the current world situation doesn’t exactly put me in the right mood to watch it, so I don’t really know how excited I should be over this.

  36. I’m the guy who thought James was surprisingly badass in HERE COMES THE BOOM so I was all in on him trying out the villain thing. His performance isn’t a revelation or anything but he does a good job of playing a total psycho who’s always pretending he’s the most reasonable guy in the room.

  37. Cool, this looked promising. I’ve always liked James as a performer and have a soft spot for KING OF QUEENS, which is one of the last and best of a dying breed of sitcom. Never seen any of his films, but this and HERE COMES THE BOOM look like they’re worth checking out. Thanks for the tips, Majeystk!

  38. HCTB is very much a Happy Madison production, with everything that entails, so bear that in mind. I thought it was enjoyable, though.

  39. HERE COMES THE BOOM slowly became one of my “I have to watch it till the end when I catch it on TV, no matter how much of it I already missed” movies. And I’m not really the biggest fan of inspirational sports movies, but this one really hits all the right notes, from the amount of good cheese to the silly humor. I already noticed how several people, who at first avoided it because of its Happy Madison connection, gave it a chance and liked it, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a bit of a beloved classic in this particular genre.

  40. It’s not really THAT much of a Happy Madison style thing, though. James and Henry winkler and the only ones of the typical gang who appear and the whole thing is more sentimental and low key than your typical Sandler joint, but of course there is a healthy amount of silly slapstick in it. Also the fights, especially the final one, are legit and better filmed than certain “serious” sports drama of the post-action era

  41. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 2nd, 2020 at 1:02 pm

    I liked BECKY too although I had hoped for something a little more interesting from James’ performance. He was my main reason for watching the film as I’m a huge fan of casting villains against type (I think this came up recently when we discussed how movies with secret villains often give away the surprise purely by casting specific people). This was a chance to really go for for it but I felt like he was holding back the whole time. Maybe he was uncomfortable playing a neo nazi and he would’ve felt safer letting loose while playing a European terrorist or something? I don’t know but he wasn’t giving this his all.

    If you remember, Simon Pegg was originally set to play the part but he had to drop out. I think that would have made for a much better film, no way Pegg would have held anything back.

  42. I agree that I wouldn’t have minded if he went a little further. He got less menacing the more he talked. But in the early going, it was impressive how quickly I forgot that he was a sitcom actor. He’s one of those fat guys you can tell are strong as fuck under it all. He had a casually menacing presence despite looking like a dwarf next to some of the giants in the supporting cast. It’s not a performance that’s forever going to change how you think about Kevin James but I’d be game to see him explore more genre material.

  43. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 2nd, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    Yeah I honestly feel he has it in him, but whether it was the script or the director or some insecurity, he just didn’t go all out. I mean at the end, when several of his men have died, he should be livid, but he just remains weirdly calm. When Joel McHale’s girlfriend sasses him at the end, all he can muster is a weak threat of her son having to watch her die if she continues like this, then he walks away from her. Same when he comes face to face with Becky when she’s killed fucking everyone and he still speaks pretty calmly to her. This is an evil prick who has no issues killing children – he should be enraged both with his words and actions, yet he can barely work up any emotion. It just didn’t feel real to me, that is not how a guy like that would have reacted in that type of situation.

  44. Yeah, some of that stuff was a bit soft. I don’t really buy that this guy would have it in him to treat a black woman with even mock civility after all the shit he went through. But overall I liked the performance, particularly his interactions with his main henchman. That character was great.

  45. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 2nd, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    Exactly, which is why I feel he may have been uncomfortable to really embrace the part and to go where it would have logically gone. I do agree with you on his relationship with the main henchman, that was good stuff, and the way the big guy meets his end got a big laugh out of me. Not as gory as some of the others, but probably the most memorable death in the film for me.

  46. I’ve been watching MARTIAL LAW recently, and there’s an episode where Kevin James and Bas Rutten are the villains. Considering Rutten and Sammo are\were top-tier martial artists, James holds his own surprisingly well.

  47. Kevin James is actually a pretty athletic guy. He started wrestling in school and was even before HERE COMES THE BOOM well trained in MMA. Someone needs to write an action movie for him and Jiu Jitsu black belt Ed O’Neill. Doesn’t have to be a full blown actioner that would be better suited for Scott Atkins, but a more “street level” thing, starring two sitcom stars who get in a bunch of fights and come out as the winners, would be cool in the right hands.

  48. I like Kevin James, he seems like a good dude and his sitcoms were funny. Haven’t seen many of his movies since they look pretty poopy. Pacman, I I was impressed by that Martial Law. For a big guy he really can throw himself around, and he’s fast.

    I like CJ’s idea. Plus Ed O’Neill is also an excellent dramatic actor, the role of Swearingen was written for him but apparently HBO refused to hire him because they were concerned of his sitcom baggage.

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