Hobo With a Shotgun

30 May

Title: Hobo With a Shotgun
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Jason Eisener
Writer: John Davies, from a story by himself, Jason Eisener and Rob Cotterill
Starring: 
Rutger Hauer, Brian Downey, Gregory Smith, Molly Dunsworth, Robb Wells
MPAA Rating: 
Not rated
Runtime: 
86 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 
74%

Much like Snakes on a Plane or last year’s Hot Tub Time Machine, Hobo With a Shotgun will probably be the year’s most self-explanatory movie title. Really, this is exactly the kind of film that you can decide if you want to see it or not basing the decision purely on whether the name of the film sounds like something you might want to check out. And that’s because Hobo With a Shotgun is precisely about a hobo with a shotgun, and it’s actually a pretty kickass sort of homage to those old exploitation films.

This one’s really right up my alley, so I guess I was predisposed to like it a fair bit. I mean, I’m not gonna say this is one of the top films of the year or say it deserves a grade in the A range from me, but I did really dug the whole look and feel of it, just this very grindhouse appeal (which is obvious considering this one came up from one of those wicked fake trailers attached to Grindhouse) and this relentless love for gore and blood and everything in between, it just made Hobo With a Shotgun deliciously easy for me to love because I like how crazy silly and cool this sort of stuff looks. Not to mention Rutger Hauer as the titular hobo is a joy to watch. You see, this hobo tries to start his life again by going into a new town, only to find out that the town he picked is a hellhole full of drugs and prostitution. And so he becomes a vigilante.

Everything here might feel super B-movie and campy and bloody, but that’s part of its appeal, our hobo even gets to fall in love with your typical prostitute with a heart of gold for chrissake. Everything is pure grindhouse gold. And this works because it doesn’t try to be all that much more than that, it knows it’s extremely over the top, and a true exercise in genre limitations, much like Rubber, the last film I had seen before this one. And even though Mr. Hauer is awesome as hell as the quiet and tough hobo and makes this one as cool as it is, this one suffers from exactly the same problem I found in Rubber, that it’s just way too long. And considering that this one, much like Rubber, doesn’t even clock in at an hour and a half that’s saying something. And that’s because these sort of premises come with a couple cool ideas to explore, but that won’t get you that far if you don’t have any sort of story to carry it through.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually kind of loved Hobo With a Shotgun, probably a tiny bit better than I did Rubber, but if there just would have been more of a plot to hold these insanely nifty scenes of cartoonish carnage then the outcome might have just been something spectacular instead of just pretty solid. This is very violent, and this is inherently silly and knows it, and I know it may not be for everybody, but when watching a movie just to let loose it’s all stuff I like to have fun watching, and this one actually executes it well. And yes, I have beef with the fact that this was just essentially a pretty cool idea that was stretched far beyond its limits to fit a feature-length film, but when the idea is “there’s a hobo and he has a shotgun and he’s gonna let bloody carnage loose on those who stand in his way” and it’s done by people who know how to make something as silly as that very well, then I’m completely sold on it.

So I see Hobo With a Shotgun as the type of film that could have failed so easily, but that it didn’t because it was well made and especially because it got in Mr. Hauer a star that’s so magnetic in this crazy role that you can’t help but just watch him go at with this sort of serious intensity that just completely makes this film feel real and all the more silly for how straight-faced he plays it. In fact, it’s precisely because Mr. Hauer feels so intense and serious in the role that the other stuff, which is twenty types of impossible and exaggerated, actually meshes in nicely with the film and doesn’t feel stupid but instead just feels perfectly over-the-top.

Last year’s Machete was the first film that spawned from one of Grindhouse‘s fake trailers, now it’s this one, and they’re both I’d say basically just as good. I mean, granted, they initially made it as a trailer for a reason, because it probably couldn’t sustain an entire movie on such a thin premise, but hey, at least they fill the gaps in with huge amounts of violence that just add to the rad little homage to a forgotten genre that filmmakers like Jason Eisener, who makes his feature-length debut here, are so eager to bring back to our screens. Now, I’m not saying we should be getting a film like this every month, but a couple times a year I really do find it extremely fun to indulge in a film with absolutely no pretensions, no subliminal messages hidden underneath the hyperbolic nature of it all, just pure caricaturesque violence that takes no prisoners and offers no apologies.

Grade: B

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