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DIRECTED BY: Bam Margera
FEATURING: Ryan Dunn, Brandon DiCamillo, Bam Margera, Jenn Rivell
PLOT: Ryan, aka “Random Hero,” is depressed over having been dumped by his girlfriend Glauren (‽) in favor of a dim-yet-confident lunk named Hellboy; his sulkiness irritates best friend Valo, who determines to break him out of his funk.
COMMENTS: If all Bam Margera and Brandon DiCamillo ever did was the CKY (Camp Kill Yourself) series of videos, they still would have staked out a tiny corner for themselves in entertainment history. These collections of outrageous stunts, puerile pranks, and skateboarding tricks earned a following that eventually included the producers of MTV’s “Jackass.” Invited to contribute to the show, the CKY crew generally did their own thing out in West Chester, Pennsylvania, to be edited into the Hollywood hijinks later. The transformation of Jackass into a movie franchise only brought them more fame, but Margera & Co.’s wildness became too much even for Johnny Knoxville and his band of idiots. Margera got fired, and troupe member Ryan Dunn died after smashing up his car while intoxicated leagues above the legal limit.
Some people might be surprised to discover that the CKY videos weren’t all Margera & Co. did. In fact, they made more than one attempt to graft their brand of messy, violent humor onto a narrative. In doing so, they followed the number one maxim of storytelling: write what you know. In this case, what they know is bumming around town looking for something to do, drinking too much while depressed over being dumped, and skateboarding.
The film makes no apologies for the fact that nearly all its characters are emotional adolescents. Our Random Hero is deeply unpleasant, launching into a harangue at a girl in a coffee shop so intense that she stabs him in the eye with a fork. Glauren is a tramp with the emotional needs of the men who wrote her. (“I can play all the games I want at the bar,” she teases Ryan.) Side characters include a nude video-game playing distributor of advice called Naked Dave, a toga-clad old man who hangs out in a hot tub while topless girls feed him grapes, and a bunch of women who appear near the film’s conclusion primarily to facilitate a set of makeout sessions.
As you might expect, there are a lot of crazy, gross-out moments thrown in to hold your attention. These range from the genuinely hilarious (a random man clocks Dunn over the head with a watermelon) to the disappointingly crude (Valo and Falcone tape turds to Glauren’s garage door) to the outright inexplicable (Ryan injures himself while perched naked atop a bathroom sink masturbating). The film also traffics in randomness as a source of humor, most notably in a side plot about DiCamillo trying to invent a “reverse microwave.” It’s the kind of small joke that would serve as a minor running gag in most movies, but here gets a lot of screen time to explore the hunt for supplies, the competitors in an invention contest, and the diamond-crusted bicycle that serves as prize.
And when there’s nothing else to say or do, everybody goes skateboarding. Too much stress in everyone’s lives? Skateboarding. Flashing back to happier times? Skateboarding. (Who’s that making a cameo as a cop who arrests Ryan for hurling his empties at a cinderblock wall? Why, it’s skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, of course.) Considering that’s how he made his name, it’s not at all surprising that Margera would hold a special place for street surfing, but it’s pretty funny how little effort he makes to disguise Haggard’s hidden agenda as a skateboarding delivery system.
As a director, Margera is not untalented. The film moves along briskly, the cast of mostly amateurs is enthusiastic and game, and he enlists cohort Joseph Frantz behind the camera to capture some intriguing angles and settings. But as a storyteller, he’s way too sure that he and his friends’ hijinks and witty repartee are enough to do the job, and they just aren’t. Margera thinks he’s making Clerks with skateboards, but sadly, Haggard doesn’t have a tenth of the wit of Clerks. Making a narrative movie out of a series of stunt videos is a bodacious trick. Haggard just can’t land it.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
(This movie was nominated for review by JoE, who raved “If i could compare it’s comedy to anything, it would be Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” but then confessed “It has my official seal of approval, which means absolutely nothing lol.” Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)