FrightFest '07: Postal

Postal will be a controversial film. It's trying to be. But it's also, perhaps surprisingly, really quite good.

Uwe Boll is best known for making film adaptations of computer games, and also for being one of the most hated filmmakers alive. It's not a reputation that's justified, and I could name a slew of directors much, much, much worse than he is off the top of my head. Postal might just change that.

Based roughly on the computer game of the same name, Postal follows the adventures of a man pushed to his limits. Everything about the Dude's life sucks, and his attempts to change his fortune only make things worse. When he turns to his cult leader uncle for financial help, the Dude unwittingly enters into a battle with the Taliban, with the owners of a Nazi theme park, and with a pack of tree-hugging religious fundamentalists. There are a lot of controversial elements in that last sentence alone, and people who haven't seen the film will probably manage to build up quite a righteous anger. But Postal isn't only an equal opportunities offender; it's also almost affectionate in its mockery. The message at the centre of the film seems to be that we're all human; we're all living on this planet; if we keep fighting one another over silly issues like religion and skin colour, we'll never face the real issues.

The humour is largely on the silly side, and there are a few gags that don't quite work, but on the whole, the jokes hit the mark. The problem with some of them might be that while it's easy, from a position of privilege, to point out how silly some issues seem, to people who actually have to face religious or racial persecution on a daily basis it's really not all that funny. Postal isn't going to change the world. But, shockingly, it might actually make you think.

Putting aside controversy for now, Postal really works as a movie. It looks great, for one thing. It's not a particularly high budget movie, but it looks really, really good. The uncut version that played at FrightFest sags ever so slightly in the middle, but a few minutes are going to be excised for pacing reasons before the film goes on general release, so that's not worth worrying about. The violence is cartoonish and relentless; the finale, literally explosive.

And although there aren't really any A-list names amongst the cast, the actors are all great. Zack Ward is a genuinely good comedic actor; he's endearing enough that you identify with and root for him, even though he's really rather inept, and does, of course, go 'postal' during the movie. The situations he finds himself in are somehow familiar, if amped up to absurd proportions. The job interview scene, for example, is really well observed, and hysterically funny throughout ("what is the difference between a duck?" made me laugh even on second viewing, and, I imagine, will still amuse me on third, fourth, and fifth viewings). That scene also features Rick Hoffman, last seen stealing the show in Hostel; most of the characters in this film, even the most minor ones, are played by recognisable and talented comedians. Dave Foley deserves a mention, too, and Uwe Boll's own cameo is one of the best self-parodies I've ever seen.

In a way, it's almost a pity that the subject matter is so controversial, because it'll mean that a lot of people won't see this movie. Then again, dealing with controversial subjects didn't do South Park any harm, did it?

IMDB link

1 comment:

Junior Bruce said...

I was super surprised at how genuinely funny Postal was. Had me laughing from start to finish, and marks the turning point for me with regards to my perception of Uwe as a legit movie-maker. I'll have to rewatch for your cameo.