The Red Right Hand

You Get What You Pay For

Steven Brill

Owen Wilson
Troy Gentile
David Dorfman

In what could easily be dubbed Superbad: The Early Years, two friends start at high school, befriend a nerd, get bullied and hire a bodyguard to protect them. That is, essentially, the entire gist of the plot. The strange thing is that the film is clearly split in two. On one hand, we have this story about three kids getting picked on in school because "he's fat, he's a nerd and I'm awesome"; when given a chance to run with it, the outcomes are surprisingly amusing and relatively entertaining. The second thread is a little confusing; it focuses on a bum [Wilson] who cheats people out of their money and belongings and for the majority of the film, is impossible to sympathise with.

For those unfamiliar with Superbad, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg wrote a screenplay with 18 year old versions of themselves as the main characters; the kids in this film are clearly earlier versions of Seth, Evan and Fogell. Experiencing a rather horrendous first day, Wade [Hartley] and Ryan [Gentile] realise that by sticking up for nerdy Emmit [Dorfman], they have made a clingy friend-for-life and inherited the bullies picking on him; most notably, Filkins, played by Alex Frost. Before I continue, let me tell you a few things about Alex Frost... niggling points really. Through no fault of his own, he looks just like someone I used to know in high school, John Lynch. Shortly after high school he disappeared and was never heard from again; we didn't exactly look for him but had we, I'm sure we would have found nothing. The point is that this actor, Alex Frost, played a killer in the wonderfully acclaimed Elephant. I'm quietly confident that because the role required him to kiss a guy he took an adverse reaction to it and bulked up beyond belief. Now, where was I? Oh yes, psychos. Having suffered under bullies for large parts of my high school career, I understand the plight but to my recollection, it never got to the stage where I had to fear for my life, just my social standing. This film seems to go one further and rather than making the bully just some moronic, dysfunctional kid, he's a proper sadist! I honestly believed I was going to watch those kids die, on-screen, there and then.

Readers who frequent this site will be well-aware that I hate Owen Wilson, other than his exceptional performance in The Darjeeling Limited, I find his acting arid and repetitive. With this in mind, it's no surprise that I detested both character and actor but it was more than judgemental prejudice, the character of Drillbit Taylor was a genuine hindrance to the development of the plot; in truth, his character was completely unnecessary (it doesn't stop there, anyone over 21 gave a fairly terrible performance). My largest complaint was the fact that the movie opened with some promise and closed neatly but became intensely boring for the first solid hour, as if the screenwriters had gathered these characters together but had absolutely no idea what to do with them. The jokes are relatively cheap and disposable but they were well delivered by the young cast; all-in-all, I wouldn't bother with this film unless you're a 13 year old with parents that won't let you watch Superbad.

Release Date:
28th March 2008

The Scene To Look Out For:
During the interview stages, Adam Baldwin makes a brief cameo by stating that protecting kids from a school bully is one of the most ridiculous things he's ever heard of. The joke being that he played that exact role in My Bodyguard in 1980. The other interview candidates were somewhat amusing.

Notable Characters:
Troy Gentile acted well as 'the bolshy fat kid', having perfected this role by playing a young version of Jack Black in Tenacious D In The Pick Of Destiny and Nacho Libre but I'm actually going to pick Alex Frost for being so psychotically scary.

Highlighted Quote:
"My raps will be worth more when I'm dead. Feel free to sell them to Ghostface Killa"

In A Few Words:
"If the film had just focused primarily on the kids, it would have been a greater success; as it stands, it's pretty poor"

Total Score:

Matthew Stogdon