Let it be known that Jamie Kennedy and, apparently, most comedians working in Hollywood, has a very thin skin when it comes to criticism, and tends to take any negative comments from any corner very personally. This was the major theme of today’s movie, Heckler.
Of course, I learned this lesson months ago when film and television star T.J. Miller took personal exception to some, (admittedly over-the-top), hyperbole, that I posted on the third day of this blog’s existence, back when I had two readers, and no clue what I was doing.
Heckler is apparently Kennedy’s response to his hurt feelings after his films Malibu’s Most Wanted, (which I actually kind of liked), and particularly Son of the Mask (which I wouldn’t see if you paid me would happily see if someone wants to pay me). It consists primarily of funny people taking other to task for publicly expressing distaste for them.
The film is broken up into three sections. The first deals with actual hecklers, the (usually drunken) louts who interrupt stand-up comics in the midst of their routines. The second section addresses traditional print and big media critics, while the final section spews contempt back upon them. I thought the first segment was the best, and that it went downhill from there. Of course, I (often hastily) write movie critiques on the internet, so go figure.
I spent most of the last two-thirds movie slightly annoyed. My thought was something along the lines of “these guys are rich and famous, why do they give a shit what some random guy on the internet thinks.” And honestly, having had some time to reflect, my thoughts are still largely along those lines. However, I also recognize that emotions aren’t logical, and that apparently whether they should or shouldn’t, (spoiler: they shouldn’t) these people do actually seem to care what people write about them. I certainly can’t tell them what they’re feeling is wrong.
What saves this movie from being a complete morass of whinyness, and at least makes it watchable, is that it has just enough of a note of self-awareness to make up for the self-indulgence. There are nice little moments where Kennedy and director Michael Addis indicate that Kennedy knows he’s being somewhat thin-skinned and ridiculous. If those few moments had been a bit less few and far apart, I might think better of this film.
I never do bullet points, but I’m six-months into this journey, so here are some quick thoughts on some of the bevy of talking heads:
– Joe Rogan, Arsenio Hall, and Paul Rodriguez seem to be comics that have the most perspective about things.
– Danny Trejo has one comment, and it’s fantastic.
– I’m pretty sure that Patton Oswalt compared himself favorably to Marlon Brando
– [CENCORED] provided some completely unexpected and probably unnecessary nudity, (not that I’m complaining.)
This film’s biggest flaw, is that it doesn’t deliver what it promises. This is supposed to be a film about heckling, hecklers, and how comics react to them. Instead it glosses over that in 20 minutes and then spends an hour complaining about critics and reviewers. It even trots out the old, cliché that if you haven’t actually made a movie, you’re not qualified to review a movie. (Likewise only Chefs can review restaurants, I’m sure.) There are a couple attempts to justify this comparison, but I don’t particularly buy them.
Heckling is disruptive. It interrupts the speaker, and can ruin the show for everybody in the audience. Writing a critical review, even a poorly conceived one, is an entirely different thing. There’s a massive difference between a heckler’s veto, and a filmmaker giving up the industry because their films are poorly reviewed.
I’d have liked to have seen the movie that this one was promoted to be. It seemed like it could have been pretty great. However that is obviously not the movie wanted to make. At the end of the day, Heckler is an entirely watchable movie. There are a couple decent jokes, and it’s interesting, in a way, to see the human side of movie stars. Unfortunately, that human side isn’t so appealing. It’s a wealthy famous goof, getting petty and demeaning a part-time blogger for having the gall to mock him. It isn’t a pretty picture, but I suppose it’s real. I didn’t like this movie, but I can’t say I disliked it either. I’m glad Jamie Kennedy had the chance to get this off his chest, but when I add it all up, Heckler is Not Worth Seeing.