Just like everybody else we Snooty Ushers enjoy a good bargain, and if you venture into your local Poundland you’ll find a section where you can get new or refurbished DVDs for just £1. Sure there will be times where you will find a lot of questionable films that star Vinnie Jones, but there will also be times when you find something else. Something you’ve never heard of before, something that you can take a chance on, something that flew under the radar. So every now and then we’ll look into some films that, for one reason or another, weren’t big successes commercially in the hope that we find you something great to watch. I’ve found some absolute gems throughout the years and it’s time to share them with you!
Revenge for Jolly! (Dir. Chadd Harbold, 2012)
After Harry (Brian Pestos) finds his beloved dog, and only love in the world, hanging dead from his ceiling he begins a bloody trail of vengeance with the help of his cousin Cecil (Oscar Isaac) as they hunt down the man responsible for this heinous act.
Take a look at the cover, can you see the talent on offer in this film? Oscar Isaac, Kristen Wiig, Elijah Wood, Ryan Phillipe, Adam Brody. We even have appearances from Community alum Gillian Jacobs and Saturday Night Live stalwart Bobby Moynihan. There are plenty recognisable faces in this film, so why on Earth had I never heard of it before? Granted we have a relatively unknown actor in the lead (Brian Pestos, who also wrote the script) but Oscar Isaac is just as front and centre.
Well after watching the film, I had my answer. The film is a both a road movie and a revenge movie with splashes of comedy blacker than tar. The two leads are constantly drinking, as they go from one point to another to find the dog killer, leaving trails of blood wherever they go. There is no other way to say it, it’s a mad film. It has shades of a farcical Coen Brothers adventure, except with more bodies, more bullets and very selective humour. It is easy to take the film seriously as the comedy is heavily disguised but it is there, it just doesn’t take the commercial form of comedy. To put it simply if you take this film too seriously you will not enjoy it, if you take it with a fist full of salt you may be pleasantly surprised. It certainly caught my attention and it is most certainly worth a watch, but it absolutely is not for everybody.
The Rocker (Dir. Peter Cattaneo, 2008)
In the 80s Robert ‘Fish’ Fishman (Rainn Wilson) is a drummer for one of the most popular up and coming bands in Cleveland, known as Vesuvius. The band are about to sign a record deal that will make them famous, however the one stipulation to getting the deal is that they must replace Fish with the nephew of the president of the record label. The band agrees and leaves Fish out in the cold, leaving him sour to music. 20 years later Fish is asked to join his own nephews band to play at their prom, hesitant at first Fish decides to help them out and thanks in part to a becoming a youtube sensation known as The Naked Drummer, he soon begins a path to fame that he thought had passed him by.
Now commercially this film tanked and didn’t even break $10 Million worldwide. However to be fair when it opened, Tropic Thunder, Pineapple Express, The Dark Knight and Mamma Mia were all in the top 10 at the box office. The first two especially would make it difficult for any new comedy to come to the fore on release.
As for the film itself, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a perfect film for a Sunday evening, a light hearted comedy with plenty of Rainn Wilson to keep the laughter coming. Admittedly, had it not been for Wilson the film would have been a damp squib, and I don’t think he gets enough props for his performances in general. Here he embodies the character of Fish, a talented drummer living the life of a young rock star when he is actually middle-aged, after he was kicked out of his original band. The vigour and passion Wilson brings to the role makes the comedy work so well and looking back on his supporting cast they are insanely strong considering where they are all today. He has Emma Stone and Josh Gad in the band, Jason Sudeikis plays the bands manager and Christina Applegate plays a mild love interest, not to mention appearances from Will Arnett, Jane Lynch, Bradley Cooper and Fred Armisen. However, a couple of moments aside, the surrounding cast are strictly the warm up band for the headline act of Robert ‘Fish’ Fishman. If you like your feel good comedies, with a bit of music thrown in for good measure then I thoroughly recommend this film.
So there you have it, our very first two films that we thought flew under the radar. Both we’re bought from our local Poundland so get yourself down to yours and see if you can find something that flew under the radar.