Revenge For Jolly!
DVD | Amazon Instant
Directed by Chadd Harbold
Starring Brian Petsos, Mia, Oscar Isaac, Elijah Wood, Ryan Phillippe, Kristen Wiig, Gillian Jacobs, David Rasche
Theatrical Release: April 21, 2012
DVD Release: May 7, 2013
Never harm another man’s dog.
Revenge For Jolly is a shambolic (though darkly amusing) journey through a day in the life of Harry (Brian Petsos). The hunt is on for a thug by the name of Bachmeier (Ryan Phillippe) who is responsible for the death of the fine mini pinscher whose name appears in the title of the film. The eccentric movie has a lot of ups-and-downs throughout, mixing dry comedy with dark comedy – Revenge For Jolly is a flick that has all the flavor of Smokin’ Aces, but lacks the punchiness. Instead, it’s a cross-breed of Superbad meets Pulp Fiction meets Cheech And Chong punctuated with gratuitous and gory violence.
Harry is a man mixed up in some kind of less-than-legal affairs, in which his business has good days and bad days. Despite this, he is permanently coupled to his mini pinscher named Jolly (Mia) – a dog who is his best friend, who loves more than anything in the world. On a particularly bad day, in revenge for not following through with one of those less-than-legal tasks for some dude, he returns home to find his dog murdered.
Once bidding farewell to his four-legged friend, Harry determines to seek revenge for Jolly, employing the assistance of his cousin Cecil (Oscar Isaac). The two begin a hunt for the canine murderer that becomes a journey fueled by beer, pills, weed, chips, and Mexican food; killing those that stand in their way.
Brian Petsos takes on the lead role for the script he wrote, playing an awkward yet determined Harry, in a very eccentric performance that is reminiscent of the demented bastard love child of Crispin Glover and Tobey Maguire. His mannerisms are premeditated and he sinks deep into the role. The chemistry between him and Oscar Isaac is great, with a few dry and dark moments between the two – indicating simplicity within complexity and a complexity within simplicity.
The cameos from some of the big names are fun. Elijah Wood takes on a bartender role that is a stark contrast to his other current role in the Maniac remake, while it has a couple amusing moments. Phillippe is impressive in his considerably short role, taking a part that is miniscule in its length and actually manipulating it into a performance that speaks volumes about the character.
Some of the scenes seem to feel lackluster in places, indicating a lack of direction and perhaps poor pacing in the editing. There are a lot of scenes that feel like they have a lot of improvisation, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but the direction/editing issues deflate these moments that could have greatly aided the full impact of the film.
The writing of the story though is where the movie unravels a little. There’s a misguided element to the plot, particularly in certain scenes in which nothing is done to move the story along and fail to bring random laughs with them. The Mexican dining scene is one of these moments. It has very little to the overall story, and the humor has relatively low impact in this instance.
The ambiguity of the climax of the film is also frustrating, attempting to deliver some form of "sometimes violence is meaningless" message; but lacks the anticipated punch it was supposed to have. It lacks the satisfaction that the premise of the tale promises to deliver, and pulls back from the already overflowing bloodbath that has been rolling throughout the film.
The comedy aspect of the movie is fair, though some of the comedic ticks are incredibly dry, which will fly over a lot of people’s heads. The darker humor is highly amusing in places, and while some will find the associated gratuitous bloodshed to be disturbing, there’s an impious facet to it that others will find appealing, if not humorous.
While it’s never really stated in the movie, I believe Revenge For Jolly to be a period piece, set most likely in the 1990s. There are no cell phones, instead lots of landlines; and the computers in the movie are the ancient ginormous beige boxes with huge CRT monitors. Moreover the fashion and the hairstyles within the context of the movie is somewhat dated, employing an ambiance of days gone by.
The setting is also interesting, with great lengths to try and not specify the whereabouts of the movie – depicting it as Anywhere, USA. Obviously it’s not a big city movie; but the change of scenes seems to show an affinity with suburbs, industrial areas, rural areas, and small town regions by and large.
While Revenge For Jolly has a few issues with it, it’s certainly not without potential. The rapport between the two main characters holds possibilities for at least this film becoming popular among certain demographics, maybe making it an indie cult flick eventually”¦ But also, Harry and Cecil have potential to have other adventures should this be the case.
It is not for everyone, and for most people, Revenge For Jolly will be a hit-or-miss experience. If you dig dark humor and don’t mind a lot of violence, you may find some value in it.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5