Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th: The Tripper

The jokes on you, Champ!  In 2007, David Arquette tried to branch out from his career of being in bad comedies, starring in Scream sequels and winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.  His new challenge: Directing.  With that in mind, he made today's film- The Tripper.  The concept is silly and simple- a crazed man dresses up like Ronald Reagan and kills hippies with an axe.  How can this movie premise fail?  Well, for starters, the film is more awkwardly-paced than a boxing match between Butterbean and Floyd "Money" Mayweather.  Secondly, the horror is not all that scary, focusing just on mindless gore.  Third, the comedy parts are not really that funny.  I'll go into more depth on all of that in the review itself, however.  In the meantime, just remember that Arquette is credited as the Director, Producer and Co-Writer.  In other words, he's in it to win it...or lose it.  Put up lots of matresses, because we're meeting up with...
In a bizarre and random opening, we see a bunch of hippies protesting people trying to get down some Redwoods.  For no clear reason, the young son of one hippie has too much, grabs a chainsaw and cuts up dad.  The film jumps ahead many, many years, making we wonder why he's ripping off Pieces.  Oh wait- this is an homage, which I guess makes it all okay.  Just like Pieces, we also have a slew of red herring characters, but they don't really play a part yet.  Instead, the movie decides to spend about thirty minutes with a bunch of hippies led by Jason Mewes.  'Jay' of 'Jay and Silent Bob' as a stoner, you say?  Laziest casting ever.  As a side note, this movie also starts Balthazar Ghetty, making this a Feast reunion of sorts.  All we need is Clu Galagher to walk out from behind a tree, say 'Dammit' and leave.  Sadly, that doesn't happen.  Instead, we get to see the hippies fight with some rednecks (one of whom is Arquette) & establishing scenes between Paul Reuben's festival owner and Thomas Jane's Sheriff.  Yea.
After all of this set-up, the plot is pretty simple.  A crazy guy is running around the Woods dressed like Ronald Reagan.  I would note that Richard Nixon is more famous for hating hippies- as he was President when they were prevalent- but I guess they decided to go with Reagan.  It does have another connotation, however, which I can't fault them for using.  So yeah, the guy kills random people, often pretty quickly after they are introduced.  Old man in the woods- dead.  Random hippies- dead.  Extemporaneous main characters- dead.  The rednecks die as well, after they get caught shooting at two of the hippies with paintball guns.  How many films are going to combine Paintball and horror?!?  Incidentally, why did Arquette cast himself as a Redneck antagonist and have his death take place off-screen?  What's the point of having you as that character- let alone in the movie- if you were going to do that.  You might has well have cast Michael Berryman as a Gas Station Worker like Penny Dreadful too!
The cops...well, Thomas Jane and that other guy are hot on the killer's trail.  In a weird sub-plot, we meet a character who is about the most obvious Red Herring ever.  Just like Pieces- see above- the story makes it clear that the killer could not be the same age as this guy.  They do finally explain the Reagan thing a bit more, as the killer is the kid from the opening- I'm shocked- who spend a couple decades in a mental asylum before President Reagan basically 'opened the Asylums' by way of messing with their federal funding.  So, for whatever reason, our hero is a crazed version of Alex P. Keaton.  We get the inevitable showdown between the Final Girl and the hero before the usual conclusion and 'Is It Really Over?' Ending.  The End.
Do I want to laugh or cry?  The plot of this movie had potential, but needed a lot of polish.  The concept is one that could work...if someone else did it.  As I said before, the pacing is way off, spending nearly thirty minutes with the damn hippies before the real action and plot begin.  Did you find yourself writing page after page of hippie dialogue and couldn't stop, David?  The bigger problem is that none of the characters are that interesting.  Slasher film can have disposable characters, a trait shown by people like me often referring to characters as Jerk Girl, Jock Guy or Nerdy Guy.  However, you have to have at least one character that people really care about- the Final Girl.  This one's only interesting trait is related to her Red Herring ex-boyfriend that serves as a plot point/'surprise' moment later.  I only sort-of cared about Mewes, but that's based on his past film work.  His character, however, was about as disposable as a tissue.  I was hoping that I'd found a good horror comedy that's not Shaun of the Dead (which does have tonal problems near the end) or Black Sheep.  As such, I'm just stuck with a movie that turned out how I expected- an unfunny David Arquette film.
Next up, it's my Birthday!  To celebrate, someone else has to review a confusing by Richard Kelly that I have no interest in ever seeing. Stay tuned...

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