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DIRECTED BY: Todd Rohal, Joe Swanberg
FEATURING: Kent Osborne
PLOT: Defying advice from friends and professionals, Kent Osborne pursues his vision of making the unnecessary sequel to Uncle Kent.
WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE APOCRYPHA: It’s alternately mumblecore, surreal, awkward, and spiked with one big shot of violence; all told, Kent’s journey through a San Diego convention is pretty strange. But its bed-rising, guest-star-studded 5 & 1/2 minute jack-off finale really took commitment.
COMMENTS: I became so intrigued that I very nearly looked up who the heck this “Kent Osborne” guy is. But no: I came to know him well enough through Todd Rohal’s Uncle Kent 2, with all his insouciant eagerness, playful eccentricity, and defiant self-satisfaction. The onscreen storytelling is low key madcap, with the inexplicable and impossible gelling with the mundane, like Walter Mitty’s daydream jaunts through banality. There are too few “fluffy” movies in the realm of weird cinema, and I am grateful for having met Kent Osborne in such an outing.
This Kent Osborne (Kent Osborne) faces difficulty only once, in facing down his one detractor: Joe Swanberg. Swanberg directed the little-seen microbudget mumblecore drama Uncle Kent, and sees no reason to revisit the premise (loose, indeed, though it was in the first place). He is an utter killjoy at the opening party scene. The following morning, Kent sees his physician on an unrelated matter (chronic ear-worm). After a very long “follow the finger” neural exercise, his physician advises strongly against his patient paneling at a convention in San Diego to promote his latest comic book, “Cat Agent.” But as Kent defied Swanberg’s downerism, so he defies medical advice. What ensues is a whimsical exploration of artistic living and convention culture that becomes increasingly masturbatory.
I will return to this “masturbation” in a moment, but first you should be grounded in an underlying premise behind Uncle Kent. The singularity is real, and it is coming. For those unfamiliar with “simulation theory,” in brief, it is very much as it sounds: we live in a simulation. All these developments toward computerized living are but a replay of something that has already occurred: mechanical intelligence, and humans confined to a Matrix-y way of living. The sweet thing about Kent in Uncle Kent 2 is, he doesn’t mind. He goes through motions, as we all do, with upbeat resignation. He revels in rewatching, and sharing, his own artistic output.
At the convention he makes the acquaintance of a “Cat Agent” cos-player, and the strangeness within his life and this movie accelerates. As he is about to have sex with her, the incarnation of his own mind’s work, she zaps out of existence. He gathers a post-Apocalyptic gaggle of citizens terrified by the rapture-style disappearances. In the middle of a pitch to a co-star of Uncle Kent, just after she requests he begin masturbating for her, she disappears as well. But, Kent masturbates anyway. He’s finished making a movie about himself and his work. Hotel staff, strangers, Swanberg, and even “Weird Al” Yankovic appear and interrupt but, the climax comes—as is its wont—and everything wraps up nicely. Rohal knows we’ve done this all before: mumbling, relationships, whimsy, low drama, mid-comedy, and you know what? That’s all right. We’ve got time to kill. Uncle Kent 2 is casually wacky ride (and unless you’re too close to the TV, it won’t make you go blind).
Uncle Kent 2 received a surprise Blu-ray release in 2023 from Factory 25.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“… the wtf movie of the year. Though it’s not likely to land with, or even screen to, a mainstream audience, Uncle Kent 2 is so thoroughly dedicated to messing with its viewers, the film deserves the very highest accolade at the piss-takers ball, if only such a thing existed.” -Zach Gayne, Screen Anarchy (contemporaneous)