Sunday, April 14, 2013

DUST UP (2012) movie review

Dust Up (2012) d. Roberts, Ward (USA)

Positing itself as the latest midnight movie sensation to capitalize on the nouveaux/retro grindhouse scene, there are several distinct impressions one gets from watching Roberts attempt to seize the crown: 1) The guy definitely has an affinity for the absurd and the extreme, 2) he knows that to sell said absurd and extreme material, one needs a fearless cast, jazzy camera angles/movement, and a rip snorting musical score, and 3) he seems to have approached his sophomore feature with the attitude that he might never get to make another movie in his life so better get it ALL IN THIS TIME.

The effort and enthusiasm with which Roberts approaches his subject is evident, but where he and his cohorts come up short is in the overly artificial presentation. We are presented with recognizable archetypes: The One-Eyed Ex-Soldier (Aaron Gaffey), The Sage Mystic (Devin Barry), The Drunken Ne’er Do Well Husband (Travis Betz), His Long-Suffering Wife (Amber Benson) and The Sinister Druglord-Pervert-Madman (Jeremiah Burkitt). It’s one thing to create an exaggerated world in which everyone exists on the same plain, but it is in these characters’ failure to emotionally connect with the world presented that Dust Up’s semi-fatal disconnect occurs. One never feels that any of the laudably energetic actors believes in their given circumstances for a second – it’s a 90-minute goof of outlandishly one-upping each other. (It would also have helped if more of the material had actually been funny as opposed to purely obnoxious.)

I admit that I enjoyed these antics at times, especially hijinks involving Barry and Burkitt, but the general atmosphere is one of labored ridiculousness, clowning without worthy punchlines to seal the deal. It’s too bad, really, because there’s abundant talent in evidence – it just required focus and another pass on the script with an eye for genuine comedy. I like a good throwback as good as the next guy, but this is less homage than hyperactive fromage.

--Aaron Christensen, HorrorHound Magazine

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