If there’s one thing I’m sure of as of this writing, it’s that I have only had to suffer through two horrible films at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. And the two couldn’t be more different.
God Help the Girl stars Emily Browning as Eve, who spends her time between being stuck in a Glasgow, Scotland rehab center and making escapes back into the real world. On one such outing, she is taken in by James (Olly Alexander) after she has an episode during a concert. The two form an instant friendship, with James introducing Eve to his music student Cass (Hannah Murray). The three decide to form a band while they spend the rest of the time canoeing and facing the back and forth of unrequited love.
Did I mention God Help the Girl is a musical? Well, unfortunately, it is. And built around Belle & Sebastian songs filled with nonsensical lyrics that are each as unmemorable as the previous. Writer/director Stuart Murdoch has brought his album of the same name to the big screen in one of the most boring musicals in movie history. Watching Emily Browning gaze vacantly into the camera — literally — as she lip-syncs along is astounding dull. Not to mention that considering there’s a choreographer credit I thought maybe there’d be more dance sequences to go with the songs. But even when there is they consist of some pretty minor moves. The one bright spot is Murray, who lights up all of her scenes bringing an amusing naïveté to Cass, but all I could think of as I left the theater was “God Help the Movie.”
Walking into the second worst film of the festival, I had pretty high hopes. David Cross writes and directs Hits, an astoundingly dull satire of the YouTube generation and their quest for undeserved fame online. Our lead character Dave Stuben (Matt Walsh) accidentally finds himself the center of a viral video avalanche as he crusades to have his city’s potholes filled. Meanwhile, his daughter Katelyn (Meredith Hagner) is so obsessed with getting on The Voice that she’ll do pretty much anything — winding up in the crosshairs of unwanted fame when a sex tape leaks online. An extended subplot involves a group of marauding hipsters who get swallowed up in their own excess along the way.
David Cross is so above this material that it astounds me that he is the sole person responsible for this dreck. Being able to count the times I laughed using only my fingers isn’t even the worst of it. Just try not falling asleep as one scene careens into another where even less happens than the scene prior. My colleagues laughed a lot during the final ten minutes where at a public city council meeting Dave makes his final stand. But as Cross finally unleashes his comedic abilities he wastes them in a torrent of racist bigotry. Had the film been as mean-spirited as this final scene it would have felt like the movie was trying to make a point. As it stands, there was none, other than to poke a little fun at the hipster scene, who by the way, were in attendance and seemed to be the only ones laughing. Considering the jokes are aimed at them says even more about them than the film ever could. Avoid both all costs.
Photos courtesy of Sundance Institute