Director: Chadd Harbold
Runtime: 85 minutes
It doesn’t get much worse than a film that has absolutely nothing to say. Filled with loathsome characters in despicable situations carrying out reprehensible actions, there is little to like about or glean from Chadd Harbold‘s Revenge For Jolly!. Led by Brian Petsos (who also wrote the film), many favors must have been pulled together to get a top-shelf cast that includes Elijah Wood, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe, Kevin Corrigan, Adam Brody, Gillian Jacobs and Garret Dillahunt. Then there is Oscar Isaac trying his best in an aimless co-lead role, an actor coming off Drive and on the precipice of major fame as a lead in the Coens’ next film. Unlike the other actors, who likely spent no more than one day on set, it’s a mystery what attracted such a talent to this wayward project.
Harry (Petsos, playing a low-rate Clifton Collins Jr.) is mourning over the murder of his dog, seemingly the only thing in the entire world he cares about. Teaming up with his cousin Cecil (Isaac), they go on a bloody rampage seeking retribution for this act. Out and about on town, they go to a handful of locations, talk for a bit and then murder people. Rinse and repeat. It’s a Quentin Tarantino-wannabe void of any of the wit, style or substance.
Their first encounter is with a bartender (Elijah Wood) and this is where the mindless nature begins to unfold. The standoff, one of many to come, lacks tension with its spare dialogue. The only suspenseful notion occurs with the fundamental idea that when you aim a gun at someone with intention to shoot, it’s alarming. But this all fades away when the realization comes that these filmmakers have no grasp of this basic human notion, or exploring any sort of emotional impact this violent tirade may have on its victims or assailants.
Aside from Isaac, who continues to display more skill despite the poor script, there’s one promising scene that does slightly more than immaturely revel in gratuity. The duo enter a law firm in search of their target Bachmeier. As Isaac’s character curls up with a woman’s magazine in the lobby, the first lawyer (Bobby Moynihan) emerges in a silky grey-blue suit. When his demands for them to leave fail, he grabs his other lawyer (Adam Brody), with long hair and the same outfit. It’s just eccentric enough to rise up from the unimaginative characters we’ve previously encountered, capped off by the reliable David Rasche.
We find our characters amidst a wedding between Kristen Wiig and Garret Dillahunt, whose talent is squandered like the rest of the supporting cast, as the bloodshed hits a breaking point. By the end, there’s the lingering hope that somehow Harbold will redeem any part of this detestable experience with a word of wisdom or something to leave us meditating over. But as it concludes, we realize that the dog was luckiest character in the ensemble, for he did not have to bear witness to the proceedings.
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