Hesher is not “hilarious” as it says on the cover of this DVD. It’s mildly amusing. And while it is dark and has a certain charm to it, it’s all quite aimless and even boring. Joseph Gordon-Levitt notwithstanding.
You know what I hate? Movies that could have been great but aren’t. Hesher is one of those films. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a head-banging squatter who ditches his digs and moves in with a family that doesn’t want him? Hey, that sounds pretty good, man. I could dig that. Or so I thought. The problem is that the family he decides to shack up with has a doped-up patriarch (Rainn Wilson) and a son who can’t stop screaming and crying. If this sounds more like a drama than a comedy, then you’re right, it is. In fact, I think the key to enjoying Hesher is to not think of it as a comedy (not even a black comedy). Because it’s not. Not in the slightest.
The family, of course, has a reason to be upset. They recently lost the wife/mother in a car wreck and are dealing with it in their docile grandmother’s house. And that’s when JGL comes in, flipping their already tumultuous world upside down, to mildly amusing results. Really, this film would have been more enjoyable if it just knew what it was trying to be. At parts, it actually is funny, like in one scene where JGL lights a diving board on fire and then leaps off of it into a pool while screaming, “Fuck you, bitches!” But at other times, it’s supremely dark, even to the point where you’re uncomfortable. If the film had just been that way throughout, then the movie would have been fine. But by adding humor, it actually steals from the overall picture. Either make it funnier, or make it less dark, one or the other. The film is extremely lopsided, with the first half providing some laughs and the second part being flat-out sad. This movie could have been classic. Instead, it’s forgettable.
A large reason for that is the script. The characters don’t gel well together. Natalie Portman appears as a supermarket clerk, but you feel, in the great scheme of the story, like she’s inconsequential to the rest of the plot. The doped-up dad really only has one point in this film, and that’s to add even greater angst to the main character, TJ. Oh, and then there’s Hesher, who’s not even the main character. He’s just the catalyst, albeit a very explosive one.
If there is one saving grace to this film, it’s that Hesher is far from a boring character. JGL does a decent job of portraying the slightly sagacious/overwhelming potty-mouthed rocker, but it just doesn’t work with the rest of the film. I wish the character of Hesher existed outside of this flick and was in another movie, but wishes never come true.
I can see why some people might enjoy Hesher, but it’s not the kind of film I would recommend to anybody in particular. If you’re going to watch it, rent it.
Fans of this film are going to be disappointed that there’s no commentary or making-of sections. Instead, we get “deleted scenes” (yay). Given the slow pace of the film, I actually think some of these could have been in the movie. They definitely fit and I don’t think they drag it down any more than it already is.
“Outtakes” are just that, and man, are there a lot of them. They’re not funny and they’re a waste of time. Pass. “Behind the Scenes” is just the cast talking about the film itself and about Hesher as a character. Yawn. “Hesher Sketch Gallery” features some of the crude drawing in the movie, as well as some other sketches you could definitely see Hesher scrawling on some high school notebook when he was younger. That’s kind of cool. “Air Traffic” is a feature about all the planes that passed overhead on the site of filming, and there are also some trailers. That’s it. Not a terrible set of special features, but nothing worthwhile, either. You can pass on them if you’re not a fan of the film.