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"Vulgar" Review


Title: Vulgar

Starring: Brian O'Halloran, Brian Christopher, Bryan Johnson, Jerry Lewkowitz, Ethan Suplee

Written by: Bryan Johnson

Directed by: Bryan Johnson

Rating: R for disturbing sexual violence, some shootings and strong language.

Review by Stephen Silver

One of the most loathsome, disgusting movies ever released, Bryan Johnsons Vulgar brings the already-flagging career of Executive Producer Kevin Smith to its logical nadir. Vulgar is a sick, sick motion picture, and thats not meant as a complement.

While ostensibly a protégé of Smiths, Johnsons first movie (and its a pretty safe bet itll be his last) actually owes more to Todd Solondz, the director who invented the gross-out drama genre. Like Solondz, Johnson has nothing profound or substantive to say, so he resorts to shocking visuals meant to jar the audience into caring - a gimmick borrowed less from Truffaut or Godard than from the Farrelly Brothers and Tom Green.

Clerks star Brian OHalloran stars in Vulgar as a down on his luck circus clown who decides to loan himself out as a gag at bachelor parties and his first clients are a trio of sadistic rednecks who torture and sodomize him. Whats shocking about the rape scene isnt its graphic detail, its the unbelievable lack of skill in which its shot. Obviously the director is going for a gritty look, but the flashing mental images and characters slipping in and out of the shadows are nothing but rip-offs of film fads from the mid-90s (when Vulgar was originally shot; its sat on the shelf since around the time of Clerkss release.)

Just when you think Vulgar cant get any worse, the clown character becomes a TV star, and the film morphs into the most tiresome subgenre of the past few years, the showbiz satire. The movie has nothing to say of note about anything Hollywood-related; the clowns sudden rise to fame is not unlike Smiths at the time, but the satire is even less biting than in Smiths own Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Smith and Jason Mewes (Jay) both show up in pointless cameos, with Mewes looking like hes fifteen years old.

In Vulgar there is not a single likable character, funny joke, or well-produced scene or image in sight. Theres even a wildly unconvincing third act that is both bereft with plot holes and lacking in any kind of suitable payoff.

Vulgar aims to shock, but the only thing shocking is how this monstrosity managed to receive even its very limited theatrical release. Its hard to imagine any target audience at all, other than 15-year-old boys who regularly peruse Rotten.com, think Mallrats is the best Kevin Smith movie, and consider Jay and Silent Bob their primary role models.

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