Potty mouths

Bad behavior gets rewarded — in different ways — in ‘Hesher’ and ‘Bridesmaids’

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JESUS, JOSEPH | Gordon-Levitt shirtless is a settling point of the dark comedy ‘Hersher.’

Fans of the F-word will hear as much of it dropped in Hesher and Bridesmaids — as in a five-minute conversation with the average teenager. It’s mostly spoken by men (especially Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in Hesher and by women in Bridesmaids, where producer Judd Apatow tries to show us that chicks can be as potty-mouthed as the dudes in his other movies.

Hesher (Gordon-Levitt) is kind of a guardian devil who follows adolescent T.J. (Devin Brochu) home and moves into his garage uninvited. T.J., his father (Rainn Wilson) and grandmother (Piper Laurie) are dealing with the death of T.J.’s mother two months before. Dad’s depression has made him a vegetable and granny does what she can with her failing health.

T.J. is also dealing with a bully at school — not because of his perceived orientation, just because the bully’s an asshole. He’s rescued from a fight by Nicole (Natalie Portman, who really needs to make more movies — we never see her anymore), a supermarket checker who is later helped out of a bad situation by Hesher.

All you really need to know about Hesher is that Gordon-Levitt goes through most of it without a shirt on, even though he has scruffy Jesus hair, chain-smokes and wreaks havoc (sometimes with positive results) wherever he goes. If you need more, it’s an off-the-wall dark comedy that bodes well for first-feature director and co-writer Spencer Susser, with a strong cast doing good work.

Hesher could be called a feel-good movie about grief, and it makes about as much sense as that description, but don’t let that scare you away.

Bridesmaids, by contrast, is more run-of-the-mill, a series of sketches with the same characters, moving toward a wedding. Maya Rudolph plays Lillian, the bride-to-be, but the main character is her maid of honor, Annie (Apatow veteran Kristen Wiig, who also co-wrote the screenplay). Wiig is great at self-deprecating humor, humiliating herself in one situation after another, but eventually you may start to feel as I did that Annie doesn’t deserve anything better from life than she’s getting.

Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly), acting dykey though not lesbian, steals scene after scene until she just about steals the movie. Rose Byrne is good as Annie’s nemesis and Chris O’Dowd provides welcome masculine relief as a hot cop who brings romantic potential into Annie’s life. Jon Hamm gets shirtless in an uncredited minor role and Matt Lucas, the gay half of Little Britain, plays one of Annie’s abusive roommates. Ho-hum.

You’ve seen just about everything in Bridesmaids before, but now it has more bathroom and bedroom humor.
— Steve Warren

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 13, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

RICH’S MIXTAPE: Valentine’s edition

Not a big Valentine’s person? Love got you down? Just broke up? Hey, no worries. Single people aren’t forgotten here on the Mixtape. Just turn it up and drink away.

“Skin” — Sade: The sultry singer pretty much drop-kicks that bastard right out of your life. And she does it in the sexiest way possible.

“Wish You’d Just Hate Me Like Everyone Else” — Patrick Boothe: Face it, sometimes you want people to leave you alone but they just don’t get it.

“Sex Robot” — Fritz Helder and the Phantoms, pictured: Perhaps it’s encouraging bad behavior, but yes, go out and have all kinds of sex. Hayyyyy!

“Goodbye Earl” — Dixie Chicks: OK, so you don’t wanna tuck that ex into the back of your trunk and dump the body, but you can pretend. Venting’s good.

“Sweet Tooth” — Otep. Heavy metal. Chocolate. Sure she sounds like Hades opened up and released a wrath, but sometimes that’s what you need.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright