SXSW Film Festival ’12 | Day Four

sxsw frankie_75Without a doubt, Chris O’Dowd is the star of Frankie Go Boom.


Frankie Go Boom

One benefit of South by Southwest is seeing movies that would typically be too raunchy or risqué for mainstream audiences. Frankie Go Boom, written and directed by Jordan Roberts, is about as offensive and dirty as you can get in an R-rated film. It is not for any person sensitive to political correctness or unable to laugh at some pretty uncomfortable situations.

Frank (Charlie Hunnam) has lived his whole life being bullied and tortured by his older brother, Bruce (Chris O’Dowd), who has always taken joy in videotaping Frank’s humiliation. When Bruce graduates from a drug rehab program, Frank is reluctant to attend because of a lifetime of anger toward his brother. Even though Bruce reassures Frank that he has changed and matured, he videotapes his brother having sex (or at least attempting to) with a young woman named Lasse (Lizzy Caplan). When the video goes viral, Frank has run around town trying to get it taken down before Lasse can see it.

Frankie Go Boom wouldn’t be nearly as successful without the amazing performances by the incredibly talented cast. If you didn’t think O’Dowd was a comic genius in Bridesmaids, wait until you see him as the irresponsible, remorseless screw-up who is too oblivious to know he is always at fault. Without a doubt, O’Dowd is the star of this movie.

The supporting cast is also wonderful, including an almost-unrecognizable Ron Perlman as a recent sex change patient and Chris Noth as an egotistical former TV star who is more violent off drugs than he is on them.

As a director, Roberts does a decent job keeping the story moving at a good pace and not allowing the insanity to be propelled into ridiculous territory. As a writer, though, he is quite talented at developing realistic characters and believable relationships easily recognizable by anyone who has an older sibling.

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21 Jump Street

SXSW rarely premieres major Hollywood productions, but a movie like 21 Jump Street is tailor-made for the audiences in Austin. The crowed surrounding the red carpet at the historic Paramount Theatre was the biggest at the festival so far. Stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum descended on the SXSW festival-goers like certified rock stars, and their movie did not fail to disappoint.

It’s hard to say if 21 Jump Street is a remake of the popular ’80s television show or just a re-imagining. Either way, the movie is everything the trailer promises it will be. Two less-than-capable rookie cops, Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum), are recruited for an undercover operation that will send youthful-looking cops to pose as high school students to infiltrate drug rings. In one of the film’s funniest lines, Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) explains the absurdity of the assignment by saying the people who come up with this stuff have run out of ideas (wink, wink).

The movie plays on its strengths and stumbles only rarely. Hill is terrific as the former high school nerd who somehow becomes one of the popular kids in his second chance at being a teenager. Tatum is equally impressive as the ex-jock and big man on campus who falls in line with the science nerds instead of the eco-friendly, nobody-should-be-made-fun-of popular kids. Dave Franco gives a superior performance as the cocky leader of the drug-dealing ring of students, equal parts hippie and hipster.

Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller and screenwriter Michael Bacall know there could never be a serious 21 Jump Street movie; the only way for it to happen would be to make it as ridiculous (or more so) than the idea of grown men passing as high school students. 21 Jump Street is lewd, offensive, hilarious, and possibly one of the funniest movies of the last few years. | Matthew F. Newlin

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