Blu-ray Review: ‘Frankie Go Boom’ Offers Plentiful Humiliation, Few Laughs

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CHICAGO – “Frankie Go Boom” is a comedy about deplorable people who commit heartless acts and expect us to laugh at them. It casts the hugely lovable Chris O’Dowd as the most loathsome schlub ever to materialize on the big screen since Josh Gad’s wretched comic relief in “Love and Other Drugs.” And it puts Ron Perlman in drag but fails to give him a single laugh-worthy line. What a misfire.

I’m sure there’s a biting satire that could be made about ordinary folk driven to near suicide after a circumstantial humiliation goes viral, thanks to a well-placed camera. Yet any laughs to be had can only be spawned from characters that at least partially resemble relatable human beings. Aside from its two sympathetic would-be lovebirds, “Frankie Go Boom” is populated entirely by freaks. Narcissistic freaks. Sex-crazed freaks. Christian freaks. And freaks who have sex changes. They’re funny because they’re gross, get it? Perhaps only eighth grade bullies would find this garbage amusing. Blu-ray Rating: 1.5/5.0
Blu-ray Rating: 1.5/5.0

Fresh out of rehab, Bruce (O’Dowd) once again embraces his delusions of becoming an accomplished filmmaker by torturing his hapless brother, Frankie (Charlie Hunnam), with candid cameras. After a howlingly contrived meet cute, Frankie gets lucky with a scantily clad, piteously drunk Lassie (Lizzy Caplan, giving it her all), but not before he makes several failed attempts at achieving an erection. Of course, Bruce is up to his old tricks and decides to film the entire embarrassing sexual escapade before uploading it online. Frankie’s burning hatred for his family is justified even further by his shrewish mother, Karen (Nora Dunn), who bends over backwards to defend her dear sweet Bruce. Denial is too small a word to define Karen’s warped worldview, particularly when she laughs at Frankie’s public hazing with sociopathic mirth. She’s completely absurd, but that doesn’t automatically make her funny. Scene after scene sinks to such mean-spirited levels of broad hijinks that they snuff out any possible shred of amusement. Whitney Cummings is assigned the role of a bitch, and plays her exactly as is, without any comedic flourishes. Chris Noth steps outside the comfort zone of his hollow TV persona only to say sleazy things in the Loudest Possible VOICE. Only Perlman strains to bring an added dimension to his character, but that’s after the film has already painted him as a revolting weirdo.

Frankie Go Boom was released on Blu-ray and DVD on May 14th, 2013.
Frankie Go Boom was released on Blu-ray and DVD on May 14th, 2013.
Photo credit: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Even die-hard “Sons of Anarchy” fans will find themselves squirming with unease through this deadly dark comedy, a disappointing sophomore effort from writer/director Jordan Roberts, who elicited fine work from Christopher Walken in his 2004 debut feature, “Around the Bend.” If there’s a silver lining to this dismal cloud, it’s the work from Hunnam and Caplan, who somehow manage to create a halfway plausible emotional reality in the midst of the fantastical pratfalls. I liked them enough that I wouldn’t mind following them into another film, preferably one with a point.
“Frankie Go Boom” is presented in 1080p High Definition (with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio) and includes a glib featurette as well as 11 minutes of deleted scenes complete with director intros.

‘Frankie Go Boom’ is released by Universal Studios Home Entertainment and stars Charlie Hunnam, Chris O’Dowd, Lizzy Caplan, Chris Noth, Ron Perlman, Nora Dunn and Whitney Cummings. It was written and directed by Jordan Roberts. It was released on May 14th, 2013. It is not rated. staff writer Matt Fagerholm

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