Tag Archives: Ken Marino

CAPSULE: BAD MILO (2013)

DIRECTED BY: Jacob Vaughan

FEATURING: , , Gillian Jacobs, Stephen Root, Patrick Warburton, , Toby Huss

PLOT: An accountant finds that his searing intestinal pains come from a monster that lives in his lower digestive tract, who emerges from his bowels to kill whatever is causing him undue stress in his life.

Still from Bad Milo (2013)
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Playing like a cross between a  splatter goof and The Brood remade as a comedy, Milo has minor midnight movie aspirations, but lacks the gut impact to become one of the top weird movies of all time.

COMMENTS: For a movie about a demon that lives in an accountant’s colon and emerges to slay his enemies, Bad Milo isn’t nearly as much of an exercise in bad taste as you might think. There’s only one scene of spraying fecal matter, and it’s rather light, almost a mist. There’s more blood than poop, but Milo isn’t a gorefest by horror movie standards, either. The movie’s grossest moments are all left up to your imagination, suggested only by Ken Marino’s labored grunts. Whether this modicum of restraint constitutes a relief or a disappointment is up to you, but the odd fact is that Milo the movie ends as surprisingly good-natured as Milo the killer puppet is disarmingly cute. Ray Romano-lookalike Marino plays accountant Duncan as a put-upon pushover who gradually grows a pair when forced to defend his family from his own intestinal impulses. Marino is ably supported by a familiar cast of character actors whose presence give the movie a polished and professional feel (again, whether “polished and professional” is what you want from your butt-monster movie may be a matter of personal taste). Peter Stormare, as a disheveled, New Age-y hypnotherapist (“witch doctor!,” accuses his parrot) is the movie’s quirkiest creation. Mary Kay Place amuses as Duncan’s cradle-robbing mom who gives her son T.M.I. about her S&M lifestyle. Stephen Root plays a pothead whose laid back attitude proves a constant struggle for him, while Patrick Warburton proves a natural as a genially sociopathic middle manager. For the most part, the script’s humor emerges easily from the absurd premise and capable performances, and rarely feels strained.

Milo‘s unexpectedly layered psychology involves learning to cope with buried neuroses rather than letting them become impacted, paternal abandonment issues, and, most importantly, a fear of parenthood angle. Duncan may explicitly deny that the monster up his butt is a metaphor, but the movie begs to differ. And that very fact may hurt Milo with its target audience: by being more thoughtful and probing than the usual movie about butt-monsters, it passes up a lot of scatological opportunities, which may explain why it failed to wow the midnight movie crowds. This is a case where the movie might benefit from a less tasteful approach.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…its creators usually know when to let their inherently insane ideas speak for themselves.”–Simon Abrams, RogerEbert.com (contemporaneous)

CAPSULE: THE TEN (2007)

DIRECTED BY: David Wain

FEATURING: , Winona Ryder, , Famke Janssen, , A.D. Miles,

PLOT: A series of short comedic stories, each inspired by one of the Ten Commandments.

Still from The Ten (2007)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It has a few bizarre moments, but The Ten is nowhere near consistently weird enough to number among the 366.

COMMENTS: It’s both easy and difficult to review an anthology movie like The Ten. There are ten mini-movies, so going in you realize that there are inevitably going to be hits and misses, and that spread over ninety minutes the quality is likely to average out. Actually watching the movie is just a matter of confirming that there’s neither exceptional brilliance or exceptional incompetence at work here, and that the whole does indeed converge towards the predicted mean. Although the segments span some stylistic territory, including one obscenely animated Commandment, there are more similarities than differences. Scripted by two of the co-creators of the MTV sketch comedy show “The State,” the pieces here don’t have a “short film” feel so much as a “TV sketch” sensibility, only with mild blasphemy, cuss words and (way too many) jokes about prison rape added to take advantage of the fact there are no advertisers to alienate. The sketches all begin with an absurd premise—a woman is erotically obsessed with a ventriloquist’s dummy, Jesus has returned for the Second Coming but is procrastinating about starting the rapture, a clueless doctor has a dimwitted excuse for killing one of his patients—and then develops it for seven to nine minutes before moving on to the next segment. Two of the ten stories are done in a radically different style. One is a spot-on parody of a -style scene involving urbane ex-lovers meeting on a Manhattan street. Then there’s the weirdest bit, an X-rated animated sequence (recalling Fritz the Cat) involving depraved anthropomorphic animals, including a heroin-dealing rhino who inexplicably poops flowers, ending in an interspecies orgy. The framing device involves a narrator whose domestic problems keep spilling over into his introductions, and the movie ends with the entire cast singing a musical recap (“I introduced each story, there were ten, you couldn’t have missed ’em/I was surrounded by gigantic prop tablets, but I didn’t heed their wisdom…”) To make The Ten seem less disjointed, some of the main characters from one tale play a supporting role in other stories. All of the sketches are irreverent, but there isn’t a consistent satirical outlook across the entire movie, and so the “Ten Commandments” hook never becomes more than a gimmick. The connection between the gag and the illustrative Commandment is often stretched; for example, “thou shalt have no God before me” inspires a silly spoof on celebrity worship. The writers managed to draw major talent to the project: Wynona Ryder features prominently in two of the stories, the late Ron Silver shows up in an actor’s dream vengeance role as a talent agent, Jessica Alba appears as a bimbo, and Oliver Platt gets the movie’s best bit as an impressionist who specializes in doing a mediocre Arnold Schwarzenegger (although it’s better than his Eddie Murphy). But despite the infusion of name-value movie stars, The Ten remains televisionesque; it’s missing that extra “oomph” needed to justify feature film status. Basically The Decalogue re-imagined as a grossout sketch comedy series, The Ten is sporadically amusing, but non-essential viewing.

Written by David Wain and Ken Marino, alumni from MTV’s minor cult hit “The State,” and featuring many of that series’ regulars, The Ten might have been banking on “State” fans showing up a decade after cancellation for what almost amounted to an uncensored reunion show. That didn’t happen, as the film debuted to tepid reviews and went on to recoup less than a million dollars of its $5.2 million budget at the box office.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…a series of stone-tablet-based short films — from the gross to the surreal to the certifiably nuts… A ‘Decalogue’ for special-ed students, ‘The Ten’ leans too often toward the bizarre and the bewildering.”–Jeanette Catsoulis, The New York Times (contemporaneous)

(This movie was nominated for review by Kallisti, who conceded it “might not be the weird you’re looking for but it’s worth watching.” Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)