First Directorial Debut of Novak Vengeance

“It’s getting bigger and bigger!”

Story: Ben Manalowitz is a moron. Of those guys who sleep with everyone and call it life in truth, without saying that he is not monogamous with his partners. The kind of guy who is so immersed in his own ego that he never thinks about anything other than how something can get him to where he wants to be. So when does Ben learn that one of his friends has died and that his family considers him an important part of his life? He is too interested in what people think of him to tell them the truth, and then too interested in the idea of using this disaster for the glory of the podcast, after his brother ty tells Ben that she was finished. How can something go wrong?

I must say: “Revenge” is the directorial debut of the writer/performer of BJ Novak, and he also has a main role in it. The last comedian who decided to seriously deal with his directorial stuff was Jordan Peele. But no pressure. Fortunately, while Novak takes a different approach in terms of genre, he understands the story he wants to tell (and the messages he wants to convey) just as firmly as Peel. Well done, man.

I’ve been hating Ben for less than 10 minutes. It also doesn’t help that, in the first scene, Ben and his best friend (played by John Mayer, uncredited) discuss how cool and modern they are with their carefree lifestyle on dates. Ben’s friend realizes for a split second the possibility of wanting someone “real”, then they get rid of their hidden truths and continue to live. This is a scathing indictment of the “Good guy” mentality and the punctual nature of a gender culture, based not necessarily on gender, but on the apathy of the individual. In Ben’s world, questionable behavior is actually a good thing because he is “honest”. It fulfills a double function by being both amusing and rude. This is a small example of how Novak treats the dialogues and the spirit of this script throughout the film.

The opening credits are inspired by the song “Red Solo Cup” by Toby Keith, which made me think that Vengeance would live up to stereotypes. But by relying on the stereotypical behavior of Ben, the Urban hipster, Novak reverses the scenario, giving Ben’s prejudices the Royal Flash they deserve. Is that some kind of cliché these days? Of course. But the raw emotional intensity of each award keeps it fresh. This is facilitated by the fact that the adorable Issa Rae plays the role of Eloise, Ben’s podcast editor/guru, who never misses a chance to baffle him as his aspirations take over. These two have a witty response that is both amusing and believable, even if there are no suns and rainbows. This movie is a drama rather than a comedy, and although it has some comedic moments, they tend to be to Ben’s detriment and are more sly than hilarious. Novak really wrote for the Office, and this poignant and witty dialogue is here in full force.

The juxtaposition of Ben and Abilene Shaw’s family is simply striking. Abilene’s family is pretty darn welcoming to Ben, but he could give her one. Shaw is a welcoming and kind family, and Ben is just an upstart out of the water. The cast is absolutely awesome, including Ashton Kutcher in the role of local musical Maestro Quentin Sellers, whom Abilene often visited in her quest to become a Star. No, stop it. Kutcher can be good if he is given something to dive into, and Quentin is a multi-layered character with many facets to explore. More for Kutcher, please. And I’m here, at the moment when I’m talking about the fact that Texas is itself a character in this film. No, not in Austin or any other big city, but in little Texas. A small town in Texas. This is a look that suits very few people, and Novak makes it beautiful without embellishing the problems that can arise in the life of a small town.

It shows the ignorance of the inhabitants of a big city when it comes to Dissimilarity, but in a way that attracts attention without being, in a way, super-naughty about it, you know? It is, it is unpleasant, but there are moments of Ben’s pure ignorance that temper his frenzied supremacy. Of course, Ben falls in love with the area and his family and gets caught up in the secret. Shit, three quarters of the way and he’s eating a Frito pie, y ‘all! (BTW, it’s just delicious, you should try it.) And things are really starting to go off the rails.. or do they do it? Spoiler alert: they do. Did you forget it was a execute secret? Expect some twists and turns that you are waiting for… and a few that you don’t expect.

Insta is fame, prejudice, addiction to everything you have, social media and parasocial relationships, as well as myths about cities versus small towns. Novak looks at all this and mixes into a hellish “who”… and “why”. “Revenge” looks like a mixture of “true Detective”,”Homecoming” and “Friday Night Lights”. If it sounds like an eclectic mix, then that’s the way it is. However, Novak turns all the plates with a vengeance and produces a film that will immediately attract you. And you can be a farm in this one, all of you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to dream about Wataburger.

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