Give it to Jeremy — He’ll Watch Anything: Hard Times

Ed. Note: In “Give it to Jeremy — He’ll Watch Anything,” Jeremy blindly selects a movie from the Netflix “Random Picks” section, watches it, and records his reaction. It’s arbitrary. It’s chaos. It’s awesome. Warning: Spoilers

Selection

2014-01-16_15-50-23

Alright, let’s just jump in. I want my random picks (at least to begin with) to have a truly random feel. I’m worried if I go with a known commodity, I’ll be starting with a specific set of expectations and frame of mind. I want to go into this clean, having no idea what to expect, other than what the title, two-sentence description, and tiny cover artwork suggest. So to select this movie, I went to Netflix.com, found the “Random Picks” section, and chose the first title and cover that caught my curiosity enough to hover over and read the description:

2014-01-16_15-51-01

“A mailman botches a get-rich-quick scheme by dumping pills into a local well. As he goes on the run from the FBI, the town feels the drugs’ effects!”

How can I pass that up?! Added bonus: I am unfamiliar with all of the associated names (Starring John Lynch, Cornelius Clarke, Directed by Tom Reeve).

Important note: Yes, I realize that I somehow allowed my eyes to pass over something called “MEGA SHARK VERSUS CROCOSAURUS” on the way to this title. But, c’mon. That’d be a little on the nose, right? I’m sure I’ll be enticed by a title like that eventually, but for now, I want the truly random and mysterious. In this case, I saw “Hard Times,” then thought, “Is that a play on Fast Times at Ridgemont High? I can’t read the subtitle. Are those nuns?”

Oh jeez. I’m looking at the cover of this movie again now, for the third time, this time actually thinking about it.

2014-01-16_15-50-43

That title background looks an awful lot like a pill. Like a famous blue pill. “Hard Times.” Uh oh. What have I done…

Ed. Note: This movie was originally known as Holy Water.

Showtime!

0:00
I added the movie to My List so I can watch it through my PS3. Curiously, the description is different here, and much more specific: “A Viagra theft goes south. Now the whole town’s frisky. Think it’s got anything to do with the drugs dumped down a well?”

Here’s what Netflix has to say about it: “Looking for something goofy and absurd? This one’s got you covered.”

And now there’s a clearer picture of the nuns featured on the movie’s cover: Why, those aren’t nuns at all. Those are two men in nun costumes: one with a goatee, the other holding an assault rifle.

Very well, then. Here we go!

0:30
Do I hear a bagpipe?

1:05
The man walking along a cliffy shore holding a bagpipe says, “Yes.”

1:35
The credits indicate a character named “Sixpac.” I am ready for anything.

1:54
Oh, God. The bagpiper just fell off a cliff. That is how you set a movie’s tone, my friends. Serious music. Credits in a fancy font. Moody shoreline. Man tumbling absurdly off a cliff. Is this Monty Python?

4:10
Me, to my wife (Amanda, who is present, but busy with internet devices), trying to locate the accents I’m hearing: “Is that Irish? Or Scottish? Scottish. I think. I don’t know.”

5:20
Goodbye bagpipe, hello, sassy tin whistle!

6:24
A character just said, “Feckin’.” Gotta be Irish, right?

7:50
That’s some Guinness-looking beer those old guys at the bar are drinking. So, Ireland. Right?

8:30
Ok, that’s a Catholic priest. Ireland.

12:00
Farce alert! We have our first Pfizer truck sighting.

The characters are making some weak jokes about Americans, American women, and American beer. If this is going to be a theme, hopefully it gets more clever.

14:40
Romantic interest alert! A young man (Sean, surely one of the protagonists) is talking about leaving the village for good, and gives one heckuva lingering glance to the blonde bartender.

15:50
One of the protagonists remarks, “We all need a woman with her own farm.” Yes, I’ve said that many times.

16:25
Genuine laugh alert! The first from me, since the bagpiper dropping off the cliff:

Sean, talking about having no ideas to get money: “I’m all ears and no prospects.”

The bald mailman (Podger), who seems to be set up as the quipster: “Like Prince Charles himself.”

17:28
“What’s worse than England?”

“America!”

Hey, come on. We have feelings, you know.

19:30
Groundwork alert! The protagonists are complaining about one of their wound-up sisters (Tom’s, Geraldine) needing some relief. HMM WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN WITH HER LATER.

22:45
Here’s a bit of a serious scene. Tom and Geraldine own a hotel. Tom had been hiding some debts. His sister is upset about it. This isn’t the slapstick comedy I was expecting, so far. There have been some silly moments, but mostly the comedy has come via deadpan one-liners.

23:50
OCEAN’S ELEVEN AND ITALIAN JOB REFERENCE. Wait. Is it a reference if they directly say the names of the movies in dialogue? What is that called? Well done, in this case.

25:17
Physical comedy alert! Tom stumbles into crops while trying to throw a ball. (I have no idea what game they’re trying to play, but it looks fun.) The four leads are verging on lovable goofballs at this point. I’m hooked.

26:48
If you hate the f-word, this movie may be for you. There is none of that nasty American impropriety to this point. Instead, it’s all “feckin’ this” and “feckin’ that.” Good, clean fun.

27:50
Amanda has gone device-free and appears to be fully watching the movie now. I think we both assumed she’d be disinterested by now, and I’d be trying to spin my own comedy out of a bad situation.

28:12
Nun alert! Here are the nun costumes, at last. The gentlemen even have makeup on. The one with the dark, hairy goatee seems to think wearing copious amounts of blush balances it out? This movie is taking the “blundering schemers” comedy trope and making a nice run with it.

29:07
“We’re being hijacked by feckin’ nuns!” Why, that was no assault rifle in the promo picture. It’s a piece of wood cut and painted to look like an assault rifle. ‘Twas good enough to fool me!

30:55
A female police officer just got off the phone after hearing some garbled yelling, and expressed my feelings for most of this movie so far: “Couldn’t understand a word they said.”

37:55
“That’s Linda Hamilton.”

“Who’s that?”

“She was in Terminator… Did you ever watch the Terminator movies?”

“Nope.”

“She was Sarah Connor.”

Watch a movie with Amanda, and learn something new.

41:42
Innuendo alert! Pfizer has sent in a security team from New York. The local female cop leans in very close to Podger: “I hear they have rocket launchers.”

45:00
Foreshadow alert! The old Guiness-guzzling men at the bar are musing over what they could do with $2 million, which was the reward offered by the security team for information leading to the stolen pills. Think they’ll try to fish for clues and turn in the culprits?

46:30
I still need a word for when a reference is made to another movie by naming the movie directly. Podger ALMOST did it again: “Where that terminator fellow is going around… terminating people. What’s it called?”

47:37
Double foreshadow alert! Some of the women in the village are trying on lingerie (over their clothes) AND talking about what they could do with $2 million.

50:39
The protagonists are shoving the barrels of Viagra down the well, to keep it hidden until they can retrieve it later. And OH, I JUST GOT IT! “Hard Times.” The heroes and their town are going through hard times. Financially. Hence their scheme.

You guys. Hard times.

Sharp as a tack, that’s me. Fifty minutes, that’s all it takes.

52:25
“They were just putting a lot of focus on water.” Foreshadow alert, courtesy of Amanda! We just saw an old man fill a water feeder on a rabbit cage, and a woman making tea.

53:13
“Fffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff.”

The best non-curse curse word delivery ever, and another genuine laugh from the room.

Also, Amanda: “This is making me want to go to Ireland.”

53:55
Innuendo alert! The male member of security team, to Geraldine at the hotel: “Excuse me. We need a big base for our operation. Big.” She takes off her glasses. So much eye contact.

So, so much eye contact.

57:42
Now he’s lifting weights while the other two security people are doing actual work trying to track the goods. Ohhh, ok. He must be Sixpac.

1:02:53
One of the American security team women: “The Irish sure say feck a lot.”

“It’s an ancient Gaelic word. It doesn’t mean what you think.”

Well, there you go. (I just tried Googling “feck,” found a Wikipedia entry called, “Debate about the word’s level of offensiveness,” and gave up. I’m satisfied with it not meaning what I think it means, whatever that is.)

1:04:29
Innuendo alert! Segue to a bar scene: “Actually, make mine a stiff one.”

1:08:45
Innuendo alert! “Do you… need a hand?” They’ve clearly become more and more common, and less and less subtle in content and delivery.

1:15:30
My innuendo alert machine just exploded.

1:19:35
We’re helped to forget an awkward montage of tone-deaf sex scenes when young Sean is awoken from what turned out to be a sex dream by a wooden crucifix landing on his face. I’m learning so much about Irish comedy today.

1:21:00
Payoff alert! Remember the old man putting water in a feeder on his rabbit cage? Now he’s busy counting rabbits in the cage.

1:27:47
Nothing spoils a fine movie like ending with a couple making out while the entire town stands around and cheers. In the history of unscripted mankind, has that ever happened?

I suppose it’s possible. But that doesn’t mean it should be.

1:28:20
The movie ends as it began: With a joke that reeks wonderfully of Monty Python. Earlier in the movie, the Pfizer security team was trying to find the stolen truck by tracking its black box, and had some trouble when satellite signals were being interrupted by a Russian boat in a nearby bay.

Now we see the head security woman looking at the boat through binoculars, reading a sign on the back: “RED HERRING.”

Final Thoughts

I immediately did some IMDB surfing to see if I knew anybody from anything. The highlights:

  • Sixpac was also the prisoner in The Dark Knight who tosses the detonator out the window of the ferry.
  • Tom, the hotel owner, played Bobby Sands in Some Mother’s Son, which I saw ten years ago. The guy’s got range!
  • The writer of the film, Michael O’Mahoney, doesn’t have any other credits since 1999 (this movie came out in 2009). But, get this: He did write 21 episodes of Inspector Gadget back in the 80s. Amazing.

So, how did I like the movie? Well, I gave it 3 stars on Netflix, which they equate to “I liked it.” It was not all what I was expecting based on what Netflix showed me. I was bracing myself for the raunch of a Farrelly or Wayans brothers movie, perhaps delivered with the skill of a Van Wilder movie or one of Adam Sandler’s worst. But it was actually a very solid comedy. Witty, but not stuffy. Silly, but not slapstick. Frisky, but not gross. Other than the unneeded sex scene montage near the end, the movie is mostly suggestive rather than explicit. And it ended up being a nice tale about a community of people in a small village.

If any of this sounds at all intriguing to you, I recommend giving it a try. As for me, I’ll be giving Random Picks another try soon. Stay tuned!