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Overall Rating

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Average: 6%
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Total Crap: 2%

1 review, 44 user ratings

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Hacks (2002)
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by Chris Parry

"A movie so out there you'll never see it. Sorry man, but you won't."
4 stars

As a film reviewer for a site that gives equal press to both unreleased indies and mainstream releases, often I'm faced with a dilemma. Indie filmmakers, often folks who've put their entire life savings on a production budget, email us asking for a review of their flick and then hold their breath hoping for a positive review. To these guys, the review really matters, because underground press acclaim can lead to a theatrical release and a return on their money. Of course, this means that when you've got to tell a filmmaker they've got absolutely no talent and they've pissed their cash up against the wall, suddenly you feel like a right bastard for simply telling the truth. Thankfully, as far as Glenn Rockowitz's 'Hacks' is concerned, no such guilt is necessary, because this is a freakin' funny flick that deserves a far wider release than it's ever likely to receive (Sorry Glenn, couldn't resist the chance to fuck with your head).

Hacks is a mockumentary following a troupe of comedians from the Diamond and Hutz talent agency. Imagine a stand-up agency that consisted of Rick Rockwell, Tom Arnold, Dan Quayle, Larry King and Imus. Now give them all cancer, kill their parents and ask them to do five minutes each of stand-up - that's how funny the Diamond and Hutz kids are.

Take Otiz, the black albino comic, who insults his audience with misogynist jokes and curse words. Or how about Slappy, the wacky middle-aged woman, who wears a hockey mask to avoid getting smacked in the head with another audience-thrown bottle and gleefully gives anal sex and oral sex (in that order) to secure a five minute club spot. Then there's Skully, the wheelchair observational comic, flanked by his ever-supportive, ever-hysterically laughing, non-handicapped girlfriend and dishing out wisdom like "What's with boxers? Always beating each other up, quit fighting!" Added to this bunch there's the Kaufman-esque alterna-comic, an old Elvis impersonator, a middle-aged waiter who has a couple of gags that went over huge at the 1904 joke-writers convention, and Slappy's husband, a frustrated wannabe-comic who gives his wife cue card advice from the side of the stage - advice like "more pussy".

Incompetent, delusional, slightly retarded and 100% talent-free, the D&H kids nonetheless ply their trade with determination and courage, knocking them dead in nursing homes, strip clubs, median strips and the occasional board room as they prepare for a comedy festival in upstate New York to which they've been invited to perform.

So what of Hacks the movie? Well, it's consistently hilarious. Rockowitz has plied his trade on the stand-up circuit long enough to know what's funny and what's been done a million times, and he's put together an almost-feature length flick that is more entertaining than 95% of the mainstream product I get to watch. There's clearly a lot of improv going on here and the cast seems to be as comedically talented as the writer/director, which makes for a great mix. There's not a lot of dead time, there's not a lot of flat jokes, and there's an awful lot of lines and scenes that will have you in stitches.

Where Hacks goes wrong, however, at least for the purposes of a theatrical release, is in forcing the issue once or twice. A scene where Slappy's husband moves the car away as she's peeing by the side of the road might have been a lot funnier if all we'd seen was the inside of the car as it moved and Slappy's screams from the outside, then a later shot to her covered in pee, rather than an extended shot from behind as she tries to chase after the car in a pants-down squat. Any scene in any movie where I ask myself the question "is she actually peeing there?" could probably have been excluded from the final mix without damaging the movie. Granted, if Slappy had been played by Charlize Theron - different story - but that's just me.

And to be honest, it's only that scene and a running time that is about ten or fifteen minutes shy of feature film length that I think damages this film's chance of getting out there. Certainly the scene in question would preclude the flick from ever getting into a Blockbuster or a Wal-Mart, and while it would never be this site's intention to tell filmmakers to trim their work for the Birmingham Alabama PTA crowd, when you've got two hundred grand of your own cash in the flick, you've got to worry about financial return as much as the integrity of your work.

One other problem with them film is it's 'mockumentary' construction. When making a mock documentary, the effect works best when the audience are left to wonder whether what they're seeing is real or not. In Hacks, it's very clear that you're watching something staged, especially when flashbacks are used. Of course, you're never likely to actually believe what you're seeing on the screen anyway, so perhaps we're supposed to just go with it rather than pick holes, but putting out a movie that's 'unpickable' is the difference between making a really great flick that everybody will see and a really great flick that nobody will see.

And Hacks is a really great flick that, unfortunately, not a whole lot of people are going to see. That's a shame, because I don't think I've laughed so hard in months. If Hacks was run as a Comedy Central special it would be grandly recieved (and no doubt often repeated), and indeed it might be the small screen where this film finds the audience it so deserves.

Hacks has played at a ton of film festivals and won its share of awards at same, and that's no surprise. It does what it sets out to do, show you the bottom end of the comedy circuit and make you pee your pants laughing, very well. The writing, the characters, the music, the pacing, they're all first rate. In fact, these folks are so talented and the script so enjoyable, that I think the only thing more fun than watching this flick would have been working on it.

Glenn, if you ever need a cheap Unit Production Manager...

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originally posted: 11/07/02 07:26:55
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User Comments

3/05/12 tinnitus cure hZX9DB Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic blog post.Much thanks again. 5 stars
7/05/05 y2mckay Otis is hilarious, the rest not so much. A contrived and scripted "documentary" 3 stars
7/28/04 Harwich Amazing DVD! 5 stars
5/22/04 Andy Coon A rip to all the conventional comedies that take themselves lightly. Huh?? Extacly... 5 stars
4/20/04 Steve Fucking hilarious, comedy gold, terrific indie comedy, life is just a ride 5 stars
4/20/04 Bman Hacks is out on dvd:!!!! 5 stars
12/26/03 Dan Strather So damn funny 5 stars
6/18/03 D-MO JONES "Reatrdid" people! This is exactly why the movie works! 5 stars
6/17/03 Mauricia Makes fun of retardid people. Mean spirited 3 stars
6/11/03 moe styles Besides a few parts that made me wince in discust- I belly laughed at least 10 times. 5 stars
4/13/03 Tommo Fuckin funny 5 stars
3/30/03 Oliver dig it 5 stars
3/27/03 ZIGGY good 5 stars
3/26/03 DThomas nice 5 stars
3/25/03 T. Oliver great 5 stars
3/20/03 T. Dante LOVED it. 5 stars
3/19/03 Tom R awesome 5 stars
3/04/03 Cory right on - im a comic, we suck 5 stars
2/14/03 TARZAN OK 5 stars
2/05/03 Hank Quite funny indeed 5 stars
2/04/03 Jerry N Solid, funny flick - even for low-budge 5 stars
2/04/03 G Davis xxxcelent 5 stars
2/03/03 Get Lost kicked ass 5 stars
1/30/03 J Frielander laughed out loud throughout 5 stars
1/23/03 manav n 1 stars
1/07/03 J. Zucker Very, very funy! 5 stars
1/07/03 Dave G. One of the funniest films I've seen in a while! 5 stars
1/02/03 buddy I laughed out loud- I never laugh out loud. p.s.-(cut the peeing part) 5 stars
12/27/02 Tony G. Too slow? Dominic is retarded. 5 stars
12/24/02 Dominic Was pretty good, though slow at some points 3 stars
12/10/02 Chris Ward A disturbingly funny movie. The best independent comedy since Clerks. 5 stars
12/08/02 Jack kicks much ass! 5 stars
11/28/02 d. anderson excellent! 5 stars
11/25/02 Buddha Not very 'filmic' but some very funny moments. 4 stars
11/25/02 Doug Brunell This is a better documentary than "Hoop Dreams." 5 stars
11/20/02 Joseph Kettering Much too funny. I want to see it again. 5 stars
11/12/02 RMapes Kicks ass - totally edgy! 5 stars
11/11/02 Isaac This flick is gonna blow up! Big time! 5 stars
11/10/02 Hope Saw it 5 months ago & I'm still laughing about it! 5 stars
11/09/02 Beth Every single character's improv development was amazing! 5 stars
11/08/02 Neil S. Meltzer The funniest stuff on film. 5 stars
11/08/02 greta brillant inprov comedy 5 stars
11/07/02 Eric Blair One of the most uniquely funny movies around! 5 stars
11/07/02 Reinaldo Garcia For me, the scene were Slappy is pissing her pants outside the car is hysterical. 5 stars
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  02-Nov-2002 (R)



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