Sunday, August 14, 2011

"31 Movies, 31 Days": #9 Hobo With a Shotgun

Movie: Hobo With a Shotgun (2011)
Budget: $3 million

Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Format: Netflix Streaming

Arguably the greatest movie title ever, Hobo With a Shotgun delivers exactly what its name promises---a hobo, played with compelling intensity by Rutger Hauer, blowing people away with a shotgun. Between this film and Rubber, I've now reached my monthly allowance on heads being, literally, blown up. I think those two movies combined have at least a dozen heads exploding like rotten tomatoes. But awesome title and exploding heads aside, does Hobo With a Shotgun live up to its Grindhouse spin-off expectations? Yes...and no.

"Hobo" is the second feature film to materialize from the gag trailers for Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse double feature. The first spin-off, Machete, was a disappointing effort helmed by the so-overrated Rodriguez. In his desire to pay tribute to classic grindhouse cinema, Rodriguez inadvertently made a mockery of the genre by being too self-aware and encouraging intentionally bad acting. "Hobo," on the other hand, takes itself just a bit more seriously and, thus, more accurately captures the low-budget, gritty, exploitative aesthetic that a movie like this requires. Hauer plays his Hobo role absolutely straight, and the movie is a lot better off for it. I've always thought Hauer was an under-appreciated actor, a reality not helped by the many, many bad movies he's found himself in. Call me crazy, but I think Hauer still has an Oscar-worthy performance in him. He'll just need a director like Tarantino to give him a chance and get his career revived with some good material.

In Hobo With a Shotgun, not that plot matters, Hauer finds himself in the middle of a god forsaken shithole of a town, one ruled with a brutal fist by "The Drake" and his two Tom Cruise-in-Risky-Business lookalike sons. The villainous performances are gleefully over the top, sometimes to good effect, sometimes to annoyance. There's also a weird supernatural element called "The Plague," a mysterious, demonic bounty hunting duo whose bizarre presence nobody seems to question. It's a bleak movie, and the shitty Canadian town where they shot is up to the challenge as looking like a place I would never, ever want to visit. Anyway, bad things provoke the Hobo to buy a shotgun and take justice into his own hands. It's weird, it's violent, it's mildly entertaining.

Your enjoyment of Hobo With a Shotgun will depend largely (entirely?) on your opinion of grindhouse-style cinema. Let's be clear---Hobo With a Shotgun is not, traditionally speaking, a good movie. It's really quite stupid and the supporting performances are exceptionally amateurish. I'm not a huge fan of the genre, so I had a somewhat tepid response to Hobo. Hauer's performance is admirable, and there are some fun, clever parts in the middle---especially when The Plague is introduced---but otherwise the film just sort of drags, mildly offends, and is unpleasant to look at. I mean, really, it's a bleak fucking town.

Kraig's Rating: 4/10

Movie #1: Skyline
Movie #2: Killers
Movie #3: The Iron Giant
Movie #4: The Adjustment Bureau
Movie #5: Rubber
Movie #6: The Fighter
Movie #7: The Winning Season
Movie #8: World's Greatest Dad


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