Fantastic Fest Review: BUTT BOY Goes All In
Writer/director/comedian Tyler Cornack’s second feature, Butt Boy, is a film that should not be judged entirely by its title. It might be as “cheeky” as you’d think, but it’s certainly not as silly or compelling as you’d initially suspect. This irreverent poker-faced thriller goes all in, and it must be seen to be believed.
After a child goes missing, a newly sober detective, Russel Fox (Tyler Rice) suspects that his sponsor, Chip (Tyler Cornack), has a super power that makes animals, objects, and humans disappear in his butt.
Butt Boy’s premise may be a juvenile one-note joke birthed out of sketch comedy, but it’s surprisingly audacious in its absurdity, continually veering into entertainingly unexpected places. It takes itself more serious than you’d expect, which actually makes its absurdist leanings all the more hilarious, and somehow, it manages to maintain its straight-faced tone and uphold the joke, all while being oddly compelling for pretty much the entirety of its runtime.
On the surface, it’s about the transformation of an average Joe into a serial killer, whose preferred method just so happens to be shoving his victims into his butt, the newly sober cop who hunts him down, and the bonkers game of cat and mouse that unfolds between them. However, at its core, it’s about two men dealing with very different addictions (one more conventional than the other), and coping with the dissatisfaction they have with their lives.
Chip is a bored family man going through a very bizarre mid-life crisis; the jolt of excitement his first prostate exam causes awakens a strange urge that only further distances him from his otherwise normal life. Detective Fox is haunted by his past, the loss of his son and the subsequent estrangement from his wife, which caused him to fall deeper into the bottle and hurl himself into his work (like Chip hurls things into his butt). Both Chip and Detective Fox turn to their addiction to escape from the pain or boredom in their life, and when the two are paired up in AA (which Chip only attends because it’s the closest thing to his personal addiction), Fox’s romanticism for drinking — he loves the smell and even the hangovers — reawakens the butt-obsessed urges in Chip, which he had previously suppressed for 9 years, leading to an unforgettable ride.
Butt Boy heavily masks the absurdity of its premise under the guise of a gritty 80s cop thriller loaded with grounded human drama and interweaving character threads that make the whole thing more effective than it should be. The best way to describe it is Yorgos Lanthimos directing Manhunter in the style of David Fincher with the stylish sensibility of Drive and a dash of South Park’s Lemmiwinks. If that doesn’t sell it or at least intrigue you, Butt Boy is obviously not the film for you; although, it seems like a film tailormade for cinephiles like us with an affinity for the odd and unusual.
The film is loaded with some lovely cinematography from William Morean, full of nighttime cityscapes and neon flourishes. The set and production design fills the frame with the kind of colors that pop and accentuate Morean’s visuals. Cornack’s direction style is simplistic — full of over the shoulders, reverse of the shoulders, and singles with heavy pans — and pretty tightly focused, only every becoming clumsy whenever he chooses to move the camera. The fantastic synth score by Tyler Cornack and co-writer Ryan Koch (under the credit Feathers) gives the film a nice driving pulse, whose 80s-inspired sound leans further into Drive’s sonic aesthetic.
The film really relies a lot on the characters, and the performers really sell it, particularly Tyler Rice as Detective Fox. Rice is like a rugged and less handsome Ryan Gosling (which further supports Drive comparisons), and he crawls into the body of the character, totally embracing the stereotypical cop qualities, delivering lines like, “If they have unpaid parking tickets, I wanna know about it,” with cliché gusto. He even gets called out on it on numerous occasions; “You look like every detective ever with the greasy hair and the earing,” Chip says. But the fact that certain aspects of the film are intentionally familiar only make its gonzo tendencies shine that much brighter.
There are points where it seems to putter around a bit and feels like an overextended skit, especially towards the end when it starts to seep air like a loose butthole, but it remains a thoroughly engrossing and bizarrely compelling experience. Some of the character aspects are wonky — for instance, Detective Fox doesn’t struggle much at all with his addiction, which didn’t line up with his love for getting loaded — but most of them can be overlooked due to the film’s many strengths.
Recommendation: If you love silly premises and comedies that play it straight, definitely put Butt Boy up your watchlist.
Rating: 3.5 Sorry pieces outta 5.
What do you think? Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!