Friday, May 23, 2008

DVD Postal by Uwe Boll a must not buy


Notorious, critic-boxing director Uwe Boll takes the helm for this adaptation of the controversial video game that ignited controversy across the globe and is actually illegal to own in Australia and New Zealand. Dude (Zack Ward) is an unemployed slacker currently subsisting on Social Security until he lands his next job. Dude's uncle Dave (Dave Foley) is a cult leader currently in dire financial straits. When Uncle Dave hatches a plan to rip off a local amusement park, Dude sees the heist as the perfect opportunity to make a little extra cash. Unfortunately for Dude and Uncle Dave, the Taliban are all set to execute the exact same heist. Erick Avari, Seymour Cassel, Verne Troyer, Larry Thomas, and J.K. Simmons star in a deliberately over-the-top action comedy that is sure to garner as much controversy as the video game that inspired it. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Review: Return `Postal' to sender

How does Uwe Boll keep getting work?

Seriously, this is not a rhetorical question — someone, somewhere surely must know the answer.

The German director has built a career, if you can call it that, on taking video games such as "Alone in the Dark," "House of the Dead" and "BloodRayne" and turning them into sloppy, unwatchable movies. (The press notes describe him as "controversial director Uwe Boll." That's probably giving him too much credit for accomplishing anything of the slightest significance.)

Those were pretty straightforward action pics. With "Postal," he actually shows some ambition. It's based on a video game, too, but it's intended as a ribald, politically incorrect satire.

Boll says he's aiming for the kind of comic tone found in the "Airplane!" and "Naked Gun" movies, but he and co-writer Bryan C. Knight have nowhere near the deft touch required to pull off that kind of absurd humor.

Here's just one example: Osama bin Laden (Larry Thomas), who speaks with an American accent and goes by the name "Sammy," calls President Bush on a pay phone and is greeted with a playful, "Osama, you old (expletive)." Later they share a "Brokeback Mountain" joke.

Ooh, so subversive — and fresh!

The main point of this pointless post-9/11 "comedy" revolves around two groups competing to steal a warehouse full of phallic "Krotchy" dolls with the hope of using them for various nefarious purposes.

One is led by the unemployed Dude (Zack Ward) and his Uncle Dave (Dave Foley), the head of a new agey love cult. Foley does a painful full-frontal nude shot, then sits down on the toilet to loudly relieve himself in front of his assistant while smoking a joint. Theoretically, this was meant to be "edgy," but instead it's just gross. Dave wants to sell the dolls on eBay to pay the $1 million in back taxes he owes.

Meanwhile, Osama & Co. have been hiding in the back room of a convenience store, playing pool all day and pretending to act tough when the cameras are rolling. They want the dolls because each one contains a vial of the avian flu, which is enough to wipe out the entire country.

All this action takes place in the fictional town of Paradise, which is essentially one big trailer park. This gives Boll the opportunity to make fun of morbidly obese women and toothless, scrawny men. Also in his cross hairs are Asian drivers, abusive cops, self-important TV reporters and people who take too long to order their coffee. It's like shooting fish in a barrel, and there's zero innovation or brains behind his observations.

Boll shows up as himself at a German-themed amusement park, dressed in lederhosen while hot women in bikinis wander around wearing swastikas and Hitler mustaches. Later he declares, "I have video games." It's an in-joke, of course.

Also making a cameo as himself is Verne Troyer, Mini-Me from the "Austin Powers" movies, who gets locked in his own suitcase with a bunch of sex toys and is later raped by 1,000 monkeys.

Mercifully, it ends in a hail of gunfire, with everyone shooting indiscriminately at everybody else, followed by a bomb explosion. They all go postal, you see. But we could have used that obliteration at the beginning and saved ourselves some time and agony.

"Postal," an Event Film release, is rated R for extremely crude humor throughout, including strong sexuality, graphic nudity, violence, and for pervasive language and some drug use. Running time: 100 minutes. One star out of four.

This is Uwe Boll's best film to date. That being said, it's still crap. Abundant plot holes, crudely forced shock tactics, a shallow attempt at satire, and the worst director in the entire world are just the tip of the iceberg on why this movie blows. I hate Boll's work. I hate his belligerence. He should not be allowed near a camera.

The ultimate question, however, is did I laugh? Yes. In spite of everything , I laughed. This movie is Uwe Boll's "F*^# you!" statement to the world. He's going to continue making movies whether we like it or not, and he's actually a lot better at crude humor than any sort of horror, adaptation or whatever random dung heap genre he sticks his nose into. He even makes fun of himself in this movie during a cameo between him and the actual creator of the postal franchise. For some weird reason, I respect that.

Zack Ward was fantastic, and really should be getting better work. This may be a rare time when an actors participation in a Boll film didn't herald their imminent career death. He proved himself to be an adequate action actor, and I'm hoping this gets him some publicity. The same cannot be said for Verne Troyer or Dave Foley, who are circling the drain. (I still laughed though.)

Is it worth the price of admission? Nope, but it's so much closer than any of Boll's films have ever been. Boll may be a deluded, stubborn and angry man,(at the Q&A he explained to us in a very serious tone, how postal was a gutsy, intelligent satire) and his work may be awful, but Boll genuinely loves films and wants to make them. He wants to get better and who knows? Maybe one day Boll will produce something worthwhile. Tasteless director John Waters invented Hairspray, which was thought to be impossible. Maybe Boll will one day harness his ambition towards film-making in a productive way. Or not. Who cares?

You shouldn't see postal if you have an option, but if you don't, you might giggle a few times, in spite of yourself. However, if you're a moron, you'll love it!


P.S: Boll has always clashed with wheelchair-bound "AintItCool" news leader, Harry Knowles. They don't get along at all. Why do I reference this? There is a mentally challenged character in the movie who begs for money from the seat of a motorized wheelchair. Can you guess his first name?