Having just seen The Hangover Part II, it’s interesting to think about all the characters Zack Galifianakis has actually played over the years. Most of them are rather similar, but what he brings to all of his quirky loveable roles is a darker, snarky side that I can’t help but personally relish. He’s the kind of person who would normally come off as a flat out asshole if you knew whether he was being serious or not. I can’t help but love this about him. I’ve been playing the same part in my life for years. Gotta keep people on their toes right?
The other thing he also brings to the comedic table is the ability to act. He never plays the wacky sidekick the way that, say, Chris Farley used to. Fat guy in a little suit Zack is not. He’d be a bully if he weren’t so damn cuddly looking with his bushy beard and all. Having played bit parts in many films (most notably in things like Bubble Boy, Corky Romano and Out Cold), it’s when he pops up in more surprising films such as Below, Into the Wild, Up in the Air, Gigantic, Youth in Revolt, and It’s Kind of a Funny Story that he really brings it home. So alas, it’s with B.D. Fox Independent’s DVD re-release of director Jared Drake’s Visioneers that he’s used to full effect in a lead role.
In Visioneers, Galifianakis plays George Washington Winsterhammerman who’s living amongst a growing epidemic. Working as a Level 3 TUNT at the Jeffers Corp. George has everything he needs in a loving wife in Michelle (Judy Greer) and a huge house. But worldwide, people are literally exploding from stress. Think Scanners full fold. We’re not just talking exploding heads; these are full body explosions here. Recently, George has started dreaming, which we learn is symptom number one of impending doom.
George is determined to keep himself stress-free ranging from working with his own personal life coach, Rodger (Matthew Glave), to Michelle obsessing over the book “10,000 Things to be Happy About” she ordered off the Oprah-esque television show “SAHRA” (Missi Pyle). It’s after his co-worker and possibly only friend Charisma (Mia Maestro) leaves the Jeffers Corp., and another co-worker succumbs to the exploding epidemic that George decides that maybe fate needs to be taken into his own hands. He sets out in search for Charisma and hopes to live the happy existence his returned home brother Julieen (James LeGros) talks to him about when he’s not running a hippie compound in George’s backyard and pole vaulting.
Director Jared Drake, bringing his brother Brandon’s witty and satirical screenplay to life with Galifianakis showing he really can carry a whole movie. With the help of the supporting cast, Greer in particular playing the increasingly crazy wife, also keep the tone of the film from ever getting too bleak even if the ending seems a little too emotional by contrast. A happy ending is always welcome and it’s nice to see a character actually earn one on their own.
There are some hilarious gags throughout including the Jeffers Corp.’s idea of salutations and Georges’s dream sequences as the real George Washington. While the film may be three years old now, it’s a great way to get a nice Galifianakis fix while treating yourself to a great little dark comedy as well. Visioneers is a little on the slow side but the explosion subplot always feels like a time bomb waiting to go off which adds a tinge of suspense. It’s definitely worth checking out with a new release on home video and for those of you with NetFlix, it’s available streaming in HD as well.
Photos courtesy Fireside Film