Thursday, November 21, 2013
The Cinema File #277: "Bad Milo" Review
If there’s one good thing that came out of the 90’s (and I can believe that there may be only one), it was the cartoons. Between Fox Kids, Kids WB, and the Disney Afternoon, 90’s kids lived through a golden age of creative freedom surpassing the commercialism of the 80’s that would resurface in the new millennium and persist to this day. If they were a little older or like me had permissive parents, they also had Liquid Television, MTV’s showcase for alternative animation featuring groundbreaking shows like Beavis and Butthead and Aeon Flux. I bring all this up because I just watched a movie that reminded me quite a bit of one of my favorite Liquid Television segments, The Head, about a benevolent demon living inside a hapless man’s engorged skull. Bad Milo is basically the same idea, except that the titular monster happens to come out the other end.
Bad Milo follows Duncan, a man who discovers that what he thought were stress induced digestive issues are actually a curse, causing his subconscious mind to come to life in the form of a hideous colon dwelling creature that literally bursts out of his ass to murder people who cause him psychic pain. Even in light of the childish set up, I wanted to love this movie so much. The pedigree of the cast with alums from The State and Community instantly intrigued me, and the early release materials promised a tone harkening back to my favorite era of horror with a modern twist on schlocky 80's gore. My hope was that Bad Milo would turn into something like a middle class yuppie version of Frank Henenlotter's Basket Case, but instead I'm left wondering if its too cheap to compare the final result to the kind of thing that usually comes out of an asshole.
I'm forced to admit upon watching Bad Milo that eveything wrong with the movie inevitably comes down to the thing that attracted me to it in the first place - its crazy, unapologetically crass premise. This story, or at least this approach to this story, does not make for an interesting full length feature film. As one segment of a sketch comedy show, it probably would have worked, but there's just not enough to sustain what eventually pans out to one joke about the discomfort a man feels when something very large is passed in and out of his anus against his will. I laughed the first time, and maybe even chuckled the second time, but it got old really fast, and wasn't the kind of thing that comes back around to genius with enough repetition. I almost feel like a sell out for renouncing my love of vulgarity for its own sake, but at least in this instance, I just needed more.
Even the actors seem like they know the material isn't working and with the exception of the always weirdly charming Erik Charles Nielson turn in perfunctory performances that suggest they are saving the talent we've all seen them display before to unleash in a better movie. This is even more disappointing when the special effects take center stage and you realize that the people behind the technical side of the film actually seem interested in making this live up to its potential, only for their work to be dragged down by the apathy of everyone else involved. The titular creature is all practical effects and puts one in mind of a Chiodo brothers creation or some evil alternate universe version of E.T., and everything from the way it moves and attacks to the Gremlins-esque theme that follows it around suggests a tribute to bygone greatness dashed by a lack of vision and scope on the part of the writer, director, and actors.
I can't ultimately say that this could have been so much better than it is, because as much as it pains me to acknowledge it, a concept like monsters that come out of peoples asses is apparently just not in and of itself a workable starting point for a script. That I so wanted it to be one probably says more about me than anything else, but for what its worth, if you heard about Bad Milo and like me thought it could be just silly and gross enough to be something great, I wouldn't waste my time trying to find out for yourself. This is the laziest attempt at a killer ass monster movie that I could possibly conceive of, and there are only so many kinds of killer ass monster movies I could possibly conceive of, so the fact that they went so far as to make one and make it this badly is kind of an insult to all the free time I spend trying to conceive of so many various killer ass monster movies. Or maybe I just need to find another untapped subgenre to place my hope into. Yeah, that's probably it.