I have 498 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday or Tuesday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it!
What’s the movie? Bindlestiffs (2012)
What’s it rated? Rated R for some crack smokin’, some lady punchin’ and some hobo fuckin’.
Did people make it? Written by Andrew Edison, and Luke Loftin. Directed by Andrew Edison. Acted by Andrew Edison, Luke Loftin, John Karna, Will Fordyce and Adelaide Lummis.
What’s it like in one sentence? Clerks meets The Catcher in the Rye with a little bit of Very Bad Things sprinkled throughout.
Why did you watch it? Louis Pantelakos Jr. requested this one weeks ago.
What’s it about in one paragraph? Two friends and their verbal punching bag get suspended from school for defacing the school bathroom with a picture of a giant wang spewing jizm all over the school and its patrons. They decide instead of taking their suspension lying down, they’re going to take a trip to the big city, lose their virginities and make ol’ Holden Caulfield proud.
Play or remove from my queue? That’s a tough question. the movie made me laugh out loud multiple times, but that’s because I’m kind of a piece of shit. There’s a handful of groan worthy scenes that made me roll my eyes and there’s an equal number of inspired moments of batshit insanity (especially in the second half) that made me drop my jaw and wonder at these kids’ audacity. Bindlestiffs gets fucking dark. Not Hangover dark or Very Bad Things dark, but World’s Greatest Dad dark. Darkness that shouldn’t be laughed at. But I laughed my ass off at it, multiple times.
The three characters are typical high school movie douchebags. The leader, Andrew, is obsessed with The Catcher in the Rye because of the teenage rebellion aspect, but doesn’t get any deeper than that other than wanting to go ice skating, wearing the red hunter’s cap and spouting a line here and there. Second in command is Luke, who follows the formula of high school movies the most by being a virginal sexual braggart and an easy-going wing man to Andrew’s attempts at alpha male masculinity. Then comes John Woo. He’s a Caucasian, pro-life. fundamentalist bible-thumper foster child being raised by an Asian family that doesn’t care for him very much. Andrew and Luke treat him like garbage, but they hang out with him, which is good enough for John. These oddfellows make for an interesting dynamic when it comes to the character interactions, but they’re not richly drawn characters by any stretch of the imagination. I think that’s why this movie works as well as it does.
The first half of the film is typical high school movie shenanigans complete with a school security guard that plays like Mr. Strickland from Back to the Future except incompetent and rapey. Once they get to the city, however, Andrew fearlessly puts his money where his mouth is and makes the experience an adventure in ways I wasn’t expecting. Some truly horrendous shit goes down that I won’t spoil for you here, but when the characters all get back home by the end, it really doesn’t feel like any lessons are learned or any good came out of the trip other than a handful of stories to tell their grandchildren one day. I like that.
Sometimes stupid and ignorant people do horrible things and don’t learn a damn thing from it. These guys fit that criteria. Andrew and Luke are staggeringly stupid and cruel, where John is willfully small minded and by the time the closing credits roll, they are none the wiser except for a few new life experiences. Plus, there’s not a single repercussion in their lives for the choices they make in the city. Other people’s lives are effected profoundly, but they go back to suburbia and never have to think about what they did again unless they choose to.
Life, death and poverty mean nothing in this movie and everything is fodder for mocking. School shootings, the homeless, prostitution, drug addicts and murder are treated like the funniest things in the world in Bindlestiffs and, while it disturbed me at times with its casual cruelty, it also made me laugh. And I have to respect that.
How’s the music? Unobtrusive.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? The Office (yeah, I like the new season. I know I’m the only one), Under the Influence (never heard of it and it sounds pretty terrible), Nature Calls (in the queue), A Beginners Guide to Endings (looking forward to liking Scott Caan) and Anuva Hood (maybe not).
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? The two stars shot this, edited it and wrote it over two years for 20 grand. It definitely doesn’t look like it should have cost that much (especially since it was shot digitally), but what the hell do I know.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 2.8
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 3.5
Can you link to the movie? As you wish.
Any last thoughts? Whether you like this movie or not is going to depend completely on your standards for black comedies and gross-out humor. There was a vomiting scene in this that made me laugh until I cried if that tells you where my head is at.
Did you watch anything else this week? Getting caught up on Newsroom (good), True Blood (baaaad) and Boardwalk Empire (great) and I saw Oblivion in IMAX and thought it was pretty great, but ultimately flawed.
Any spoilerish thoughts about last week’s film, Vampire Dog? I have stopped thinking about that movie altogether.
Next Week? Hara Kiri!