Hobo With a Shotgun (2011)

Hobo Stops Begging.  Demands Change.

I got it in my head today that I wanted to watch a movie that was fun.  When I was trying to think through various review requests I had gotten, I thought back to something that I believe was requested by my friend Robert a long time ago.  He had mentioned this movie to me, but I completely forgot about it.  When I took a look at my Netflix streaming queue and saw this movie, I thought that I would have a hard time thinking of a movie that seemed like more fun than this movie because there was no way that it could take itself too seriously with a title like the one it had.  Let’s see how that decision went in my review of Hobo With a Shotgun, written by John Davies and Jason Eisener, directed by Jason Eisener, and starring Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey, Gregory Smith, Nick Bateman, and Jeremy Akerman.

A hobo (Rutger Hauer) hops on a train car and comes into a lawless town called Hope Town (though the word “Hope” has been covered up with the word “Scum” on the sign).  The town is under the control of a guy called The Drake (Brian Downey) and his equally crazy sons Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman).  The Hobo has no particular reason to have come to the town, and his only real driving force at first is his desire to purchase a lawnmower.  He befriends a hooker named Abby (Molly Dunsworth) after saving her from Slick with a sock full of quarters.  Doing so comes with some retaliation though, as Slick and Ivan carve the word “scum” into his chest after finding out that the police department is in The Drake’s pocket.  The Hobo performs some degrading acts (like chewing glass) for a local cameraman making Bumfights-esque videos to get some money.  He goes to buy his lawnmower, but sees the pawn shop getting robbed and decides to use his money on a shotgun instead.  With his unlimited supply of ammo, he decides he’s going to right the wrongs of this small town … sigh … one shell at a time …

Ever look at your life and think that you have way too much time in it?  Well, you’re in luck.  You’re already midway through reading one of the worst ways to get rid of an hour and a half of it.  This movie was nothing like the fun movie I was expecting it to be going in.  It was a pretty miserable watch, in point of fact.  I get the feeling that they just made a shitty movie and decided to try to rely on it’s camp and grindhouse style to make people forgive it.  No dice, movie!  They story is pretty basic vigilante/revenge fare, and it never really tries to surprise or break from expectations.  Best I can assume, the filmmakers figured out how to make some over the top violence and worked backwards from there until they had something close enough to call a story.  And that’s basically all this is: a demo of a bunch of ways to use fake giblets and red corn syrup.  If that’s all it takes to make a movie you’ll like, then please stop reading my reviews.  You’re getting finger paints all over your iPad.  The violence looks okay, but the rest of the movie’s grindhouse look makes it unpleasant to look at.  They also weren’t paying a great deal of attention to continuity or logic.  Some people would be inclined to give the movie a pass because it’s claiming to be a grindhouse movie or because it named itself Hobo With a Shotgun.  When a doctor in a hospital straddles his patient to pound on her chest to revive her, it may have been acceptable in shitty movies from the 70’s, or really bad episodes of ER, but today it’s just ridiculous.  And maybe people in the 70’s didn’t really pay attention to the fact that a girl taking a hacksaw to the clavicle wouldn’t be much helped by the neck bandage she was wearing later.  And no real explanation was offered for how the hooker with no discernible abilities beyond opening her legs was able to walk into a pawn shop and expertly solder and disassemble a lawnmower.  I was not alive for your grindhouse movies, so I carry no inherent love or forgiveness for them.  If done right (and often written by Quentin Tarantino) then it can still be good.  If it’s just an excuse to do something stupid and show lots of violence, but everything else is stupid, then I don’t give a shit.

The performances were pretty hit and miss in this movie.  Rutger Hauer’s performance was fine enough, but never really impressed.  It may not have really been his fault as I feel most of what annoyed me about him was the ineffectual one-liners he was delivering.  Molly Dunsworth did a pretty good job as the prostitute.  She was mostly screaming in terror and/or pain, but she pulled it off very well.  I was a bit surprised that she didn’t unleash them boobies, and she was pretty good looking so I was waiting for them.  It’s just disgraceful to the part to play a hooker but to have too much self-respect to whip your boobs out for a movie.  Brian Downey really hammed it up as The Drake.  I’m sure he’d say he intended to ham it up because villains did that in grindhouse movies, but I intend to say, “fuck your excuses.”  Prepare yourselves for that to happen.  Gregory Smith and Nick Bateman were also pretty hammy and typically just annoying.

If you’re more forgiving of movies that use “grindhouse” as an excuse than I am, you may like this movie.  I can’t imagine it, but it seems possible.  The story’s mediocre and mainly just an excuse for violence that’s so ugly the camera they used was probably cranked by hand.  The title’s the only really interesting thing about this movie, and you’ve already gained all the enjoyment out of that.  That being the case, I don’t recommend this movie.  You could stream it on Netflix, or you could stream good movies that actually try to make a good movie.  Hobo With a Shotgun gets “I’m gonna sleep in your bloody carcasses tonight” out of “Fuck your excuses!”

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