Fantastic Fest 2019 – BUTT BOY Bellows with Style and Superb Performances

BUTT BOY slides in as an official selection of Fantastic Fest this year comedian Tyler Cornack who not only stars in his movie, but also wrote and directed it.  It’s about Cornack’s Chip Gutchel, a burned out Information Technologies cog in a world dominated by corporate buffoonery.  He spends most days staring blankly at a clock in desperation of ending his work day.  When he gets home, he has a fairly indifferent wife with a newborn son.

After going to his first ever prostate exam, Chip suddenly finds a new joy in life.  It starts by asking his wife for a little ass play in the bedroom (which she refuses), and quicklyly builds to an insatiable addiction for more, and larger things.  While at the park one day, he is overcome with a sinister urge to seemingly target a baby.

Nine years pass and we meet Detective Russell Fox (played by Tyler Rise), an alcoholic dressed like a 70s undercover cop.  He’s attended a meeting for addicts and is paired up with Chip as a sponsor.  That night, suddenly the addiction returns after playing a game of Sorry! with the family.  When another child goes missing at Chip’s place of work on “Bring Your Child to Work Day”, Detective Fox’s hard-nosed cop intersects with Chip’s very guilty ass.

As clues begin to reveal…  No, fall out… like breadcrumbs for Fox, the good detective pieces the unlikely, and, frankly, unbelievable clues together.  Now, he just has to figure out how to make his captain believe him.  All this leads to a rather gross series of events to set up a hilarious conclusion.

The comedy of this movie comes through the absurdity of all the things Chip does to his…  well, to his butt.  What starts as a very faint smile when his doctor performs the exam on him suddenly grows stranger and more sinister.  First, he gets off on slipping soap up his butt.  Then, the remote control to the TV goes missing.  Next, the dog.  Each thing getting larger and more ridiculous until a baby goes missing.  We’re given visuals cues to chuckle at and a couple really good deadpan deliveries by various characters.

This is not a broad or low brow comedy by any stretch of the imagination.  You’d think there would be puns and farts and poop jokes all over this movie.  To the exception of a couple over the top jokes, this is actually a very dark movie.  Not only does Chip have to deal with an obsession and addiction he does not understand, his work life sucks, his marriage is seemingly on the rocks as the movie is pretty clear in showing that his wife is very likely cheating on him (or at least really unhappy in their relationship), and now he’s done something terrible to a child similar to his son’s age.

While the movie doesn’t go big with jokes, it’s obvious most of anything related to Chip is dour and boring and unhappy.  Meanwhile, with Detective Fox, he’s practically doing an impression of Robert DeNiro and Christian Bale’s lovechild.  In a way it helps us recognize something familiar in an otherwise fairly abstract movie about addiction.

What the movie does very well, though, is mixing lots of styles.  There are scenes that look something like a David Fincher, Quentin Tarantino, or Michael Mann film.  It even sometimes touches a Kubrick style.  All that is to say that when this movie goes dark it gets VERY dark.  There are practically no scenes that feel like the sun is shining outside.  In addition to the gritty look of the movie, our two lead Tylers, Cornack and Rice, are really good as guilty Chip and rough around the edges Detective Fox.  They have some extremely tense scenes together that really elevates this movie over some of its lesser elements.

As I mentioned previously, his movie is quite dark and pretty dour in tone.  It’s so dark and dour, in fact, that I don’t really feel like this movie has a balanced three-act structure.  We’re thrust right into act two and we kind of wallow in this world with fairly disturbing people.  Without a first act to understand who we should be siding with or against, it’s hard to catch your footing.  We’re not quite given enough motivation to grab hold of outside the kind of shallow issues Chip is dealing with.

Still, without that solid first act to help you stand on the premise of the movie and its tone, I do understand what Cornack and co-writer Ryan Koch were going for.  They want to play with some fairly dark ideas that allow for you to be disturbed by what the characters are doing and how they are acting while also letting you be disturbed by you finding it funny in places.  It’s clear these guys know and love some very high art directors’ visions and have a real knack for following those styles.

This is a nearly impossible movie to recommend to just any ol’ moviegoer.  It’s why it fits in really well with a festival like Fantastic Fest.  If you are looking for something that is a little light on deep story, but relies more heavily on character, performances, and its stylistic tone, BUTT BOY is most definitely not without some merit in those areas.

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