What an awful, terrible confession to make: I enjoyed Remarkable Power. Not only enjoyed it, but laughed out loud. Here we have a B-movie being carried by the overwhelming star power of Keven Nealon, Tom Arnold, Dulé Hill, and Christopher Titus. Depending on how you look at it, it’s the story of a television talk show host on the skids — his wife is cheating on him, his show has been canceled, and he wants revenge — or it’s the story of a nebbish named Ross who believes infomercials for “Remarkable Power,” a plan to become successful overnight. Either way, there’s fun to be had.
Classifying Remarkable Power as a B-movie may not be fair. It hovers somewhere between A and B. For starters, the film quality is good, the camera work capable. It includes that B-movie staple, gratuitous sex, but then it seems it was necessary to the story. The cast is a quirky mix of newcomers and familiar names, but certainly no big box office draws. The story is a mixed-up mélange concerning revenge, drugs, carpet cleaning, alcohol, adultery, success, friendship, and corpses. That’s just scratching the surface. This isn’t the kind of movie everyone either loves or hates, it’s probably closer to “likes or hates.”
Written by Scott Sampila, Remarkable Power steals shamelessly from Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie; that theft is what keeps it rolling along at a good pace. Characters include Russian mob members, a Jewish restaurateur and drug kingpin, porn producers and actors, cops dressed like Batman and Robin (they’re undercover!), a get-rich-quick guru, unemployed actors, network executives, cheating spouses, an enthusiastic (yet law-abiding) private investigator, and a macabre webmaster who could pass as Katie Holmes. The film switches back and forth between characters’ stories until they all converge. Some of it is incredibly silly, none is profound.
It should be difficult to keep track of so many characters in a non-linear story, but it is simply told. Primarily, Remarkable Power is a comedy, but it is also a mystery. It might even be a love story and an against-the-odds loser-turns-winner story. With so much going on, how could it possibly be anything but a mess? It just isn’t.
It’s almost impossible to outline the plot without giving too much away. It begins with a TV news report of the death of Jack West, late night talk show host (Kevin Nealon). We see infomercials for “Remarkable Power” (Christopher Titus is the man behind the plan), and meet the geek who believes it all (Evan Peters). Tom Arnold is Van Hagen, the private investigator who makes a living filming adulterous situations and insurance frauds; while on stake-out he meets perky yet ghoulish Athena (Nora Zehetner), whose apartment is plastered with photos of fresh corpses featured on her website. Each one of these disparate people are somehow (some tenuously) connected to Jack West’s plan for his wife (Sandra Hess) and her baseball star boyfriend (Johnny Messner). As more characters stumble onto the screen we learn that even the least of them is somehow linked in the grand scheme. Watching it all come together is the fun of Remarkable Power.
Although the cast may not be box office dynamite, they serve the script well. Watch for a great turn by Dulé Hill in a relatively small role as Reggie/Disco. One tends to groan when Tom Arnold’s name appears in the credits, but his performance is quite capable as the PI who knows he’s no Magnum (or even Cannon), but has his ethics to keep him warm. Even Evan Peters as the nebbishy Ross, not the most endearing character, is appealing. Many of the other roles are well worn clichés (dumb blonde, Russian mobsters) competently played.
Remarkable Power may have been filmed on a relatively modest budget, but it provides more laughs than many big budget comedies. I expected to hate Remarkable Power; instead I found it to be fun. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. (I reviewed a promotional copy on which there were no bonus features.)
Bottom Line: Would I buy/rent Remarkable Power? Yes, I say blushingly.