FeedReviewed By Scott Weinberg
Posted 04/02/06 02:25:25
SCREENED AT THE 2006 PHILADELPHIA FILM FESTIVAL: Director Brett Leonard has never made a good movie. I've got nothing against the guy personally, and whenever he churns out a new flick, I look forward to giving it a fair shot, always hoping to come out the other side screaming "He did it! He made a good movie!" -- but it just hasn't happened yet. This game has been going on since 1989, and let's just say that his latest, the ugly, boring, and stupid "Feed," has done nothing to break the streak.Beginning with a cheesy little schlocker in 1989 called Dead Pit, Mr. Leonard (who normally dabbles in the music video realm) has subjected the loyal movie geeks to The Lawnmower Man (1992), Hideaway (1995), Virtuosity (1995), and Man-Thing (2005). Between these ineptly made and aggressively bad feature films, Mr. Leonard also directed a Billy Idol special, a short IMAX flick about dinosaurs, and a Siegfried & Roy video.
The only reason Brett Leonard isn't considered one of the lamest filmmakers alive is because he doesn't work all that often.
Despite these opinions, I walked into his latest attempt, the intentionally nauseating Feed, with some small sense of optimism. Perhaps this would be the flick to break Leonard's streak of swill. Suffice to say that it wasn't, and that his next project is an umpteenth Highlander sequel, which tells me the filmmaker simply isn't interested in ever making a good movie.
Philip Jackson is a cyber-crime investigator (yep, I said it) who, apparently, deals solely with murders that are food- or cannibalism-related. After thwarting a pair of knuckleheads who enjoy eating fried penis (yep, I said that too), Jackson gets a new case stuck in his craw. The focus now is on a small and decidedly icky sub-culture dealing with "feeders" and "gainers" -- basically, men who get off on only the most obese of females, and the 600-pound gals who allow themselves to be stuffed with seven Burger King value meals in one sitting. (As if a 600-pound woman could do anything besides sit.)
Unfortunately for Jackson (and anyone else who happens to be watching Feed), one particular "feeder," a kook-head who lives in Toledo, Ohio, isn't satisfied with feeding his Jabba-like lady-friend from the value menu, so he begins feeding her human body parts. Illogically, Jackson hightails it from Australia to Toledo, intent on tracking down this feed-happy freak. Said kook has since taken up a partnership with an outrageously obese woman named Deidre, a bed-ridden butterball who ends up on the receiving end of limitless pounds of fast food, junk food, and trash bags full of liquefied human remains. Yum.
In the hands of a different filmmaker, Feed might have been a low-budget, low-minded B-movie winner, despite the ridiculously silly story and its endless array of absurd tangents. But since we're dealing with a craftsman of Brett Leonard's caliber, Feed comes packed with horrible cinematography, atrocious editorial flow, performances that border on embarrassing, and a tone that aims for "darkly disturbing," yet comes across only as "unintentionally silly." (True, there are a few sequences that are silly on purpose, but most of these are of the pandering variety; sequences that hope to get a chuckle from viewers by pointing to a morbidly obese woman and saying "Wow, look how disgusting she is, right??")
As the ever-quivering "hero" character, Aussie actor Patrick Thompson comes across as half computer geek and half insurance salesman. When you're not laughing at his actions, you're bored at how slowly he commits them. (Indeed, the last 20 minutes of Feed are comprised of one endless screaming marathon that takes place in one ick-laden bedroom, as a 600-pound behemoth lies in a bed nearby, keening like the world's largest mongoloid infant.) As the villainous "feeder," Alex O'Loughlin fares no better; a character who should be intense, nefarious, and disturbing, is instead depicted as a whining, preening mama's boy who's infinitely more likely to irritate you than creep you out. Taken as a pair, the "cat" and the "mouse" of this manhunt thriller are about as interesting as a cup of warm milk.
Clearly hoping to achieve some cult-flick status by loading his movie with scenes of food-related gross-outs and perpetually quivering fat-rolls, Leonard flies right off the deep end and settles somewhere close to Uwe Boll territory. As Feed muddles through its outlandishly stupid premise, the thing just gets uglier instead of more intense, and sillier instead of more exciting."Feed" is the sort of movie that hopes to explain its psycho's actions by offering an endless array of sequences that deal with the guy's childhood, which was (of course) spent catering to his morbidly obese and harrowingly domineering mother. Were such a stock convention used here for any sort of satirical edge, it might still hold some water, but Leonard and his gang approach the subject matter with a desperately Fincher-wannabe style that fails at every turn. To the still-curious horror freaks who find themselves intrigued by "Feed" and its grungy premise, I can only say this: I felt the exact same way. After about 25 minutes of "Feed" and its outright ineptitude, the horror geek in me was more than satisfied. Unfortunately, the flick waddles on for an additional 85 minutes, none of which offer anything beyond boredom, straight-faced silliness, and a whining actress wedged into the world's largest fat-suit.
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