Extra! Extra! Adam Clarke hates Scotch eggs, this movie.
That was atrocious.
Well, I guess my review can’t be that short. So, if I am to be St. John’s only “film cricket” (cf. Homer Simpson), I might as well write this properly.
But first, let me tell you a horror story. I was on vacation in England not too long ago. I was provided with a lunch at the residence where I was staying, so I brought it with me as I explored London on my first day. I opened my lunch bag, then took a bite out of what I thought was a gigantic, delicious falafel.
I recoiled violently. I discovered that the English don’t believe in the dishes of my people, but they do believe in hard-boiled eggs covered in F-grade McNugget batter. I was in a state of nigh-Lovecraftian madness.
I had taken a bite out of a Scotch egg.
(They say that if you go to Buckingham Palace during the changing of the guard, you can still hear the screams of a Newfoundland hobo…)
I’ve had this experience at the movies before. Scotch egg film. You go in expecting entertainment and bite into the rancid not-falafel of hard-boiled mediocrity.
Stoner FM is not, however, a Scotch egg film. It wasn’t worse than I thought it would be, it was exactly as bad as I thought it would be.
Okay, there’s exactly one decent joke in the film. This occurs when the film’s villain, Richard Fa’Got (Get it? HE’S GAY), says to our hero, “we’ll settle this like men… with badminton!”
Since that thoroughly okay joke was spoiled by bad delivery, my conscience won’t be pricked by regurgitating it here.
So, what’s the plot of the film? Even the movie’s not quite sure. The basic conflict is between cousins Fa’Got (Kent Brown) and Jack (Donny Love). Jack inherits the highly profitable Mount Zen and wants to keep it open as a ski resort. Fa’Got, always clad in pink, wants to develop the land and is in cahoots with a cowboy-hat wearing capitalist (Greg Malone, delivering a performance that could kindly be described as “shitting the bed”) and a dwarf terrorist named Ali Ka Boom Boom (played by Danny Santuccione in a turban and what appear to be …blackface).
When Fa’Got (is it funny now? The movie sure thinks so) wastes time and money while he has sex with a cockatoo (there’s three scenes of this), Ka Boom Boom sends two terrorists (played by Brown and Love in blackface) to blow up Jack. 80+ minutes of jokes about gays, women and ethnic groups ensue.
Okay, enough of that.
This movie is awful. So awful that it made me re-evaluate the worst films that I’ve seen. It made me re-evaluate YouTube clips, because I realized the “Newfoundlander Vs.” series has never been as bad as Stoner FM.
Out of curiosity, I clicked the Facebook event for the film’s premiere and got an eyeful. Lots of raging comments. Lots of stupid banter from both those supporting the film and those out to damn it. Since those comments will inevitably come to the comments section of this review, let’s address some of them right now just to get that out of the way:
“You’re just jealous! You wish you had a movie. What have you done?” Etc., etc.
This is the default reaction to criticism of any local production, and it’s easily the dumbest. Let me be perfectly clear: I don’t want to be in your movie or show. The reason I think your work is awful is the reason I don’t dream of working with you. Deal with it.
Also, I do have my own work. I regularly do stand-up gigs, I’ve had short stories published, and I’ve published non-fiction in The Scope, The Telegram and Newfoundland Quarterly. No sour grapes here.
“But Adam, it’s totally a B movie comedy. It’s supposed to be offensive.”
First, stop using the phrase “B movie“. You don’t know what that means. Second, I have no problem with boundary-pushing comedy and no critic is automatically against it. I love South Park, Re-Animator and the comedy team of Tim & Eric to list a few paragons of bad taste. I even found things to enjoy in Street Trash, which was a black comedy that prided itself on its murder and rape jokes.
Want to know what the difference is between, say, the racism themed sketches on Chappelle’s Show and the racist content of Stoner FM? One was made with a satirical aim and the other thinks anything non-white is by default hilarious. Jokes about racism can be funny, but Stoner FM feels like it was made by Pierce Hawthorne, Chevy Chase’s bigoted character from Community.
The actors are largely helpless here. When it comes to Stoner FM‘s character of the overweight, sex-crazed Beulah (Deb Janewoman), I was reminded of Ken Jeong in The Hangover. Jeong once spoke about how his nude scenes in that film were empowering, as they may have been for Janewoman. However, audiences laughed at Jeong because he was a tiny naked man (as was the intention) and the joke about Beulah is that large naked women are gross.
Don’t believe me? When Beulah climaxes during an unfortunate sex/rape scene, squealing pigs are dubbed in place of the actress’ voice. Like Jeong, if Janewoman got something out of this, I’m thrilled. That said, the filmmakers did this so audiences could laugh at you.
Karl Wells is here playing a relative of Brown’s character. Which also makes him a member of the Fa’Got family. I’m not kidding. Shame on you, Karl Wells, for playing a dumb, childish and homophobic joke in an unfunny movie.
The worst offender in this non-entity is Mary Sexton. Now, she didn’t write or direct this movie, but when cast as a Korean character, she gleefully played it cross-eyed (ugh), wearing a straw hat (wow) and delivering all her lines with gusto. What were her lines, you ask? Why, “ching-chong wing-wong”, of course. (Come back, Rosie O’Donnell! All is forgiven!) I don’t care how much pressure the crew put on you or how much money you got: You don’t agree to play an Asian person by doing this offensive, centuries-old schtick.
I don’t want to sound like I think you’re racist, but screw it: Kent Brown and Donny Love, you’re racist. As much time and effort as it took to film this, you could’ve at least spent half a minute on the creative end. This shit is offensive and, no, it’s not a good thing in this case.
Ever hear of a George Carlin track called “Rape Can Be Funny“? Carlin tackles an unfunny subject initially with a not-great joke (involving Porky Pig as an assault victim) to make a larger satirical point about the “blame the victim” mentality towards sexual assault. That’s funny. And a little offensive. For the right reasons.
But that kind of writing requires thought. And the closest thing this script had to any thought was when its writers saw the “Asspen” episode of South Park and said “we can do that!”
In conclusion, Stoner FM‘s about as funny as Sophie’s Choice.
Stoner FM is playing regularly at Empire Studio 12 at the Avalon Mall until February 28