Movie Review - Buttwhistle

Analeigh Tipton (left) and
Trevor Morgan in "Buttwhistle"
I don't think that I get writer-director Tenney Fairchild's particular brand of humor here. His main character Ogden, played by Trevor Morgan, has small doses of Vince Vaughn in any movie, small doses of Jason Schwartzman in Rushmore and small doses of any male protagonist in any Farrelly Brothers film. The other characters operate with such dry, cynical or ironic humor or sensibilities, but to a point that every interaction is odd or weird, while strongly detached or un-emotional.

Fairchild peppers this dryness with moments that are meant to be shocking or offensive. These moments are shocking and offensive but not in a way that's ultimately funny or commenting on anything. They feel random and work more to turn the audience away and not intrigue them. It might make someone laugh, but if so, I would question from where that laughter comes and why it's connecting with the person laughing.

For example, Fairchild has a scene where Ogden, a strong and physically fit, healthy 20-something wear a woman's dress and fight another girl who is nowhere near a match. He basically comes up to this girl, punches her to the ground and then starts kicking her with such force that he probably broke her ribs. I'm not sure how this is supposed to be funny, given the context with which it's set.

Another scene is essentially just a shot of a car license plate that reads "Nigger." It's just a Minnesota license plate with that word. The question is why. What is this a joke of? What is it supposed to say? Fairchild addresses race in a previous scene, but so glibly as to be inconsequential. For Fairchild to then show that license plate, it's a non-sequitur and apropos of nothing.

That's what the movie ultimately becomes. It becomes a series of non-sequitur scenes and moments that are apropos of nothing. A list of some of those non-sequitur things include a head explosion, Ogden doing parkour, his friends meeting in a hotel room, missing dogs, a boy named Roadcap, a pet parrot that flies away, a talking bar of soap and a tattooed, biker dude getting a mechanical arm.

All of these things happen randomly with no explanation or follow-up or pay-off. There's no connective tissue either, aside Ogden being present or a witness to all. It's just Fairchild trying to be weird or slightly surreal without really having much or any kind of narrative.

At one point, someone calls Ogden an asshole and there's no argument to be made against it, except when it comes to his relationship with his grandmother, which also has no narrative pay-off or resolution. When it comes to relationships with girls his own age, he is a bit of an asshole.

He has a kind of extreme nonchalance. His giving money to a homeless person indicates some caring, but he acts like he's too cool and clever for every moment. He also has an annoying refusal to be straight about anything or give a normal answer, or a response that reveals any genuineness. There's sarcasm or snark to everything he says. He never comes across as being real or honest, even though he probably never lies. Plus, I don't get all his threesomes.

Fairchild has assembled an interesting cast. The funniest of which are Thomas Jane and Griffin Newman. They play two cops investigating two missing dogs. They question Ogden and also stake out the neighborhood. If I laughed or were engaged at all, it was during the scenes of Jane and Newman. They were hilarious in their dead seriousness over the silliest case, particularly for Jane's character who comes across as a hard-nosed, veteran detective.

Two Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but recommended for mature audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 33 mins.


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