Friday, May 27, 2011

kerosene around

Hesher opens today at Cinema 21. It's pretty awesome. I talked about it a little bit today on Cort & Fatboy, with Mike Russell. OK, mostly I talked about Joseph Gordon Levitt and his bare chest and grimy underpants. And a little bit about wrestling, and capes. It was fun.

But anyway. Hesher!

I keep trying to explain to people why this movie rules so much, and I haven't really been able to. Describing the storyline makes it sound terrible: a family made catatonic by grief is invaded by this longhaired burnout who appears out of nowhere for no obvious reason and won't leave. There's a love interest, played by Natalie Portman as a checkout girl in hipster glasses. That's pretty much it. So instead I'll just say that Hesher, as embodied by Joseph Gordon Levitt, might be my ultimate dream boyfriend. He has gross hair, lives in a garage, drives a creepy van, sits around the house watching stolen-cable porn in tighty whities all day, lights cars on fire in vengeance, cusses at the dinner table with grandma, comes into your room just to fart -- but underneath all of that, he is Joseph Gordon Levitt.

In short, Hesher is hot.

He walks away from explosions calmly, without looking back.

Also, he's hilarious. And although he's menacing and totally unhinged, his disregard for civil society ends up serving the forces of good. When he shows up and attaches himself to 13-year-old TJ, you think he's some kind of punishing antagonist, bent on destroying whatever little scraps of this poor kid's happiness might remain. But what he ends up doing, probably by accident, is provoking the kid into rage and thus action. He's a totally uncouth asshole, but he helps people. Sort of.

The movie's not perfect. All the acting is solid, but the tone is a little confused; it's like Joseph Gordon Levitt's character was teleported in from some other movie, strictly to mess with the structure of this relatively ordinary family drama. The clash seems entirely deliberate. Some people won't like it, but I found it hysterical. The mood swings didn't bother me. Maybe I'm just easily distracted by the naked torsos of lithe criminal idiot stoners riding bicycles into strangers' swimming pools. But even if you don't share this fondness, you'd have to be a total square not to love the Pabst-fueled speech Hesher gives at the end of the movie. It's so wrong, but so right.

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