Saturday, September 29, 2012

I'm Gonna Ride the Horses of the Apocalypse, Mark...: "Heavy Times" (2011)



At first glance, this story of three normal dudes trying to get through a raucous night out will bring back memories of "American Graffiti" and "The Hangover." Thanks to a great cast with impeccable comic timing, "Heavy Times" stands on its own.

Youth basketball coach Hugh (Jason Brunner), sandwich board advertiser Dan (Brian D. Evans), and terrible used car salesman Mark (Adam Lauver) are best friends. They went to college, and are now stuck in dead end jobs and lives, like going to a sad little party hoping that Dan's crush won't remember the night he threw up on her.

The trio later head to Dan's sister's (Leah Garvin) house for supper, where they are subjected to the hideous Rick, Dan's brother-in-law. Rick is crude and disgusting, the bastard child of Zach Galifianakis and John Belushi. Dan and Mark hate him, but Hugh takes to him, bringing out some independence. The four go drinking at a bar, and then a blitzed Rick has a great idea- they should all head to Montreal (where Rick thinks prostitution is legal). Hugh agrees, but the others are too timid to stand up to this force of nature.

They stop off in a small town and check into a motel, where things go from bad to worse. Mark meets up with his own crazed blast from the past, his insane college roommate Gunther (Keaton Farmer), and Mark, Hugh, and Dan experience one of those life altering nights which only seems to happen in the movies.

Your enjoyment of this film might depend on how much you can take Rick. Koen overplays the part, but in a good way. We have all had this kind of obnoxious person in our lives, and the familiarity was discomforting and hilarious. You cannot stand him, but you can see why Hugh is drawn out of his safety zone to him. Lauver, Evans, and Brunner make a great team. Their mumbling comments and reactions to their situations are spot-on and extremely funny. Just when you think Koen might steal the movie, Farmer comes in as Gunther and cranks the film up a notch further. Gunther lives in his sister's basement, still working on that album of his, and spouting mumbo-jumbo about life and death.

The film is full of raunchy great moments and funny lines, from big jokes like Mark's hideous borrowed van to small lines like Hugh's email address. Having the trio meet just the two off-the-wall characters is perfect, as too many wacky nutjobs would only dilute who Rick and Gunther are. No one tries to upstage anyone in the "who's crazier?" department.

The direction is off-kilter, appropriate for this type of blurry-eyed drunken flick (even if a couple of scenes run long here and there). The musical score is full of good songs, and the sound quality is excellent.

"Heavy Times" is a funny flick that will hopefully get the attention it deserves. (* * * *) out of five stars. Get this movie now!: Heavy Times