Jul 28, 2011

Hesher



In a way, Hesher reminds me of Kubrick's Lolita, in which Peter Sellers gives a typically varied comedic performance that takes up a lot of screen time in a story that does not at all require his services. You get the sense that Kubrick would have been better off trimming the Sellers footage and making it into a separate film, perhaps "The Pink Pantherphile" or something. Same deal with Hesher- Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives a pitch-perfect, career-best performance as the ur-headbanger- a shittily tatted, long-haired pyromaniac who speaks in monosyllabic grunts and feels most at home clad only in his underwear on someone else's couch eating their cereal when he's not zooming around town in his souped-up van blaring "Battery". It is an instantly recognizable archetype, heightened to almost cartoon levels, but brought to life so effortlessly by a nigh-unrecognizable Levitt (Gordon-Levitt?) that one wonders why the fuck the filmmakers found it necessary to drop so awesome a character into so saccharine and unbearable a tepid family drama. I get the sense they were going for a sort of Visitor Q, "Teorema"-lite, the whole 'family in peril shaken out of their routine by enigmatic stranger' deal, only in this case instead of tit-milk orgies and homosexual dalliances with Terence Stamp we are treated to that guy with the big forehead from The Office looking stricken and miserable for two hours and one of the more grating child performances in recent memory.


Young TJ's mom dies and he has trouble coping and so he oh-so-quirkily becomes obsessed with owning the car she died in and runs afoul of this kid who works there who bullies him and he lives with his doting grandma whom he totally takes for granted and his dad who sits around in his underwear all doped up on pills, possible side effects of which include having a huge fucking forehead and only being amusing on The Office, intermittently at that, and so one day all angsty and unable to cope and shit TJ throws a brick through a window at a construction site and totally exposes Hesher in the process as that's where the dude was squatting so Hesher plants himself in TJ's house with the threat of bodily harm to TJ and in the process teaches TJ and his family about being a family, sticking up for oneself, AND he gets to totally plow away at Natalie Portman (Hesher that is, TJ totally wants to get at it, but he's like fucking 12 and she's Natalie Portman). So yeah, real TV Movie of the Week stuff, TJ dealing with grief, his shitty home situation, and being bullied with Hesher incongruously pasted onto the scenes, with nary a reaction from the cast. Hesher plops down on the couch across from dad, dad just kinda shrugs, Hesher watches TJ getting forced to eat a urinal cake at school, the bully hardly bats an eye. He also implicates TJ in some arson or something and TJ is the one taken to the police station. Up until the point we see Hesher and the grocery store clerk Portman plays going at it, I was pretty much convinced Hesher was just a creation of TJ's subconscious, like a live-action Calvin and Hobbes where instead of pissing on a Honda decal Calvin has just lost his mom and grows his bangs all shaggy like so they can hide his tears. Which reminds me, this TJ kid is fucking annoying- I think the only direction given to the kid playing him was "alternate between looking like your mom is not taking you to your dad's for the weekend so you'll have to wait a week to play the new Halo game and looking severely constipated."


Which sucks, because Hesher is an awesome character. Take for instance the scene where Hesher, chomping away at the dinner table, chastises TJ for not walking with his grandma by talking about how he heard about a "granny rapist" and proceeding to explain in graphic detail what being a granny rapist entails- hilarious! Or the scene where without rhyme or reason Hesher demolishes some random household's pool, throwing in all of the patio furniture and setting it ablaze, and since Portman is on hand during this it brings to mind the pool scene in Garden State, that sterile slice of linoleum masquerading as "indie" cinema, and in a way it's like Hesher is saying FUCK Garden State and fuck you, Ms. Portman, for producing THIS steaming pile, fuck Hesher, I want out. Dude has a horrible tattoo on his chest of a stick figure flipping the bird and blowing it's brains out! Hesher, the character, deserves a much better starring vehicle than Hesher the After School Special provides. By the time the finale rolled around, with Hesher the holy ghost to TJ's son and forehead guy's heavenly father pushing a coffin in slow motion as mood music blares on the soundtrack, I half prayed for Hesher, so vivid and malevolent and METAL, to flip the coffin over, grab the dead grandmother's corpse (oh yeah, SPOILER!) and drunkenly facefuck her, revealing himself to be the granny rapist, before cracking Dwight from The Office's bulbous dome like an egg and making TJ eat a piece of his cranial discharge, SATAN! But no, we are merely placated with the footnote of Hesher leaving behind "Hesher was here" in spray-paint on the roof of the house, har har, as TJ and dad look on all misty-eyed and appreciative and shit. What a waste.


-Jon-Christian

1 comment:

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I just experienced something quite magical, hopefully you`ll be experiencing it as well very soon. I just read Mick La Salle's (San Francisco Chronicle) reveiw of "Attack the Block", he's the only reveiwer thats really had the guts to tell the truth about yet another pile of totally unwatchable British made horse-shit that has somehow been allowed to pollute American cinema's with its laughable, pathetic, amateurishness. As i was reading the reveiw i was laughing with joy, as if a leviathan of hidden pig-shit had finally been outed (as it were) by someone who finally had the guts to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the British film industry. It was like the reveiw had been written by "yours truly", like i said, reading that reveiw has made my YEAR let alone my day. If you read the reveiw over at meta-critic it will hopefully ensure that you never EVER reveiw anymore British made films on this site ever again. I salute "THE TRUTH" as bestowed by Mick La Salle.