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A Series of Fortunate Boner-isms: 'Donny's Bar Mitzvah' and 'Bad Trip'
The Farrelly Brothers got little on these krewes.
As I type this out with an annoying sinus toothache and an odd explosion sound that just hit in the background (really), I’m thinking about the various self-sabotages in my life, and the day-to-day struggle with anxiety.
It’s been since roughly the Third Grade that I’ve experienced such heavy stress and nervousness, enough to hold me back from enjoying life. Sometimes it keeps me from watching movies, sometimes it keeps me from chatting with friends. Social media has become a crutch to this, where I now trade in thoughtful comments for the like button, out of fear of confrontations - good and bad.
Yesterday, a work colleague gave me a nice pep talk. He said the right things and gave me the right directives to follow. Somehow, a block has been lifted. I recorded a video project with ease and got over some worry over my on-camera visage.
I’m also watching movies more per day than I had been previously, and writing a lot more. It’s only been a short time, but I feel very good - despite my sinus issue of course.
The following column is a double review of two very present-Adult Swim/confrontational comedy flicks, both that went a long way in boosting my personal confidence and inspiring some late-night typing. It helps too that I have a Freewrite Traveler to work from, which is quite easy on the hands and the word length.
Be prepared for some toilet humor talk. Be prepared to relax a bit.
(apologies, but there’s no watchlist or links for this edition - they will return though)
Donny’s Bar Mitzvah and Bad Trip
Honestly, I never thought that I’d see anything that would rival the toilet humor classics of the 1990s era Farrelly Brothers, but here we are, and I just have. Now, I don mean a movie that’s gross for the sake of being grosz - like the Shamwow Guy’s flick The Underground Comedy Movie - or a cheap cash grab knockoff - like a Happy Madison “film” - but rather, something with a genuine passion for the effort it takes to go all out, to go puke or go home. To raunch and then some.
We’ve come a long way since Porky’s.
Donny’s Bar Mitzvah and Bad Trip are as subversively hilarious as movies can get, and in the most visceral of ways. Blunt force confrontational comedy, these are, and there’s no going back.
In Donny’s Bar Mitzvah, we have a VHYes type format, where an old tape is picked out of a collection of home videos, and watched with frustration by unseen viewers. It’s a semi-professional videography and editing gig of a young man’s bar mitzvah, that captures everything for posterity. Everything. The style is never consistent, as we go from found footage-ish perspective to family event sentiment to narrative storytelling all too quickly, and often within the same scene. This can be confusing, but it doesn’t totally matter all that much. Its bursts of fun come not from the production’s craft so much as it does from the antics as a whole.
Adults party hard here, right out of the gate. One guest vomits when surprised and excited, another is a sex fiend, and one more is an agent in disguise, seeking out a literal “party pooper.” This is the definition of juvenile jokery and overly (way overly) whacky situations of the dangerous kind, going from butt plug beer chugging to cell phones in orifices to kids wearing dildos unknowingly.
Sometimes, the sheer gall of the vulgarity can be too much to handle, but so can the ever frequent belly laughter that makes one hurt and hurt hard, There is some nuance in the movie, mostly around Donny and the stoner valet, but that’s it: this is pure traumatic boner raunch, for best and better. I’d even venture to go Tromatic, as some gags reach Lloyd Kaufman and Toxic Avenger levels of nuts.
This will put off many audiences, even those inclined to watch a genre like this. But for those who’ve come to appreciate late-night hijinx programming, they’ll find much comfort and chill. Flat out awesome, flat out terrifying, flat out uncontrollable and untamed - though maybe it should be at times.
On the Netflix side of this equation, the brilliant Eric Andre takes his absurd version of in your space invasive hilarity and blows it up with dynamite. Bad Trip has been released finally, and the wait was more than worth it. It’s a movie that ought to win a Nobel peace prize, for its skill in conducting prankery within a narrative framework and for its commentary on modern Americans.
Two pals go on a road trip to visit the woman of one of their affections, ala Dumb and Dumber. Along the way - while being hunted by the prison breaker Tiffany Haddish, who is at her A-game excellence here - the duo gets into scrapes and incidents involving real people, improvising the script to match the emotions going on at a given time; Gorillas that don’t know the meaning of the word no, cowboy bar patrons that get massively vomited on, blenders that chop hands into bloody hunks of matter, and musical numbers that only piss off mall consumers. It all makes up this brilliant conceptual experiment.
The landscape of our melting pot is on display too, showing we the people as we really are and who we can be in given moments of anarchy. Some pray, some cheer on, almost all record with their phones at the ready for anything to happen. Citizen journalism or trying to catch social media views and favorites? These aren’t the more disturbing elements, but sometimes they can be questionable: a handful show disdain and dislike, while many more than expected show sincere care - like a conflicted maintenance man who witnesses Haddish escaping from a jail bus, or a guy who attempts to deescalate a volatile post-car explosion argument. Even the first guy we confront, a Car Wash customer, is absolutely cool and willing to help the schlubby Eric Andre in a compromising predicament (his clothes get ripped off and his crush is hanging around nearby). Good people are out and about, folks. And the not-so-good ones? No judgment, as who’d blame them in these trying scenarios, in this trying time. It’s all so nebulous, but all so revealing too.
The cinematography of the hidden cameras has got to be the most breathtaking technical achievement I’ve seen in a while. To get such reactions from ordinary individuals and fit them within some cinematic story confines, is nothing short of spectacular. Eric Andre, Tiffany Haddish, and the rest of the cast get much recognition, but much more should be bestowed on the direction and the crew who made it all possible. It takes a team to fool a public.
Bad Trip is a celebration - not unlike a Bollywood film - of dumbassery that will only get greater with age. It tops my current favorites of 2021 list, and likely will be rivaled by only a few other movies. It’s loud, it’s louder, it’s loudest. It’s brave, it’s horrific, and it’s stunning in every way. Sheer grand genius of this nature is hard to find - be thankful it found us.
Two vulgarities, never too vulgar. Two gag pictures, never too disgusting or to be disgusted at. Still, they’ll push and push. Move with them, I suggest.