CATEGORIES Action, Comedy, Theatrical Reviews, Fantastic Fest, Cinematical Indie, Reviews, Cinematical
(We're re-posting our Postal review from Fantastic Fest in conjunction with the film's theatrical release this weekend.)
There's been a little pre-release buzz on this Postal flick, most of which seems to focus on the assertion that it's either A) Uwe Boll's best film yet, or B) Uwe Boll's first good movie. Well, considering that we're talking about the guy who directed House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark and BloodRayne, "best film yet" doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot. And as far as Uwe's "first good movie" is concerned, well, I suppose we'll have to keep on waiting for that one to show up. The only difference between Postal and Boll's other films is that this one tries to be funny on purpose (and fails), whereas the other three try to be serious while delivering huge laughs.
Based on the popular video game, Postal is about a generic schlub who gradually loses his cool and eventually explodes into a violent lunatic. Imagine the Michael Douglas film Falling Down, only the screenplay was done with finger-paints, and that's pretty much what Postal is "about." There's a whole lot of mirthless wheel-spinning that focuses on stolen dolls, goofy terrorists and freaky cults, but nothing that really assumes the mantle of "central plot." Aside from one good gag in the opening scene, a creatively bizarre closing shot, one strong performance and a (very) small collection of slightly amusing (gross-out or shock value) gags, Postal is every bit as awful as Mr. Boll's earlier output.
Imagine that you're babysitting for your best friend's hyperactive 12-year-old. Few things in the world can be as stunningly obnoxious as a hyper-active 12-year-old, so further imagine that you've just given the kid 12 cans of Red Bull and a dictionary filled only with profanities. Now give the kid eight candy bars and a video camera before you chain his ankle to a radiator -- and that's what Postal feels like: A sugar-fried 12-year-old boy with ADD who has just discovered the joys of poop jokes, naked parts and annoyingly over-the-top vulgarity. And he screams a lot. Oh, plus you're paying good money to babysit this kid.
It's as if Uwe Boll came to the realization that "Hey, people are already laughing at my movies, so why not make an actual comedy!?!" Unfortunately, as a pair of comedy creators, Uwe Boll and co-writer Bryan Knight leave a whole lot to be desired. Everything in Postal that might make you laugh is predicated on that most basic category of comedy: The shock value gag. When you can't think of anything clever or creative, just have somebody fart. Instead of setting up jokes and delivering a satisfying payoff, just throw chocolate sauce on an actress and have someone call it poop. And when you're dead-broke-stuck on how to make with the funny, ask a C-level comedian to scratch his bare penis for a few easy chuckles. (Oh, Dave Foley, my god. No former Kid in the Hall should have to suffer like this.)
From the scoring and lighting to the acting and editing, the thing wouldn't earn a passing grade from even the most lenient film professor at the chintziest community college. Aside from a random assortment of mildly effective moments and a lead performance from Zack Ward (that's better than the flick deserves) the movie plays more like a punishment than a pleasure. Boll seems to be shooting for "Mad Magazine meets South Park," but ends up delivering hammy schtick so dire that it wouldn't even make the cut on Mad TV. And that skit show has some of the worst comedy on the planet. He's so desperately trying to be shocking and offensive that he forgets to be funny. Gimmick cameos from the likes of Verne Troyer, Seymour Cassel and J.K. Simmons do very little to alleviate the migraines.
So yeah, sure. Postal is Uwe Boll's best film so far. And that dump my cat just took is her greatest one yet because it smells slightly less nauseating than her others. Nothing personal against the delightfully prolific Mr. Boll, but my simple advice is this: Stay a producer. You obviously have a talent for churning out the profitable C-grade novelty flicks. But for the love of any god you choose, stop writing and directing. Three half-decent jokes in a broad comedy this formless, obnoxious and erratic? Dude. It's embarrassing at this point.