Director: Jason Eisner (2011)
Starring: Rutger Hauer, Brian Downey, Molly Dunsworth, Nick Bateman
Buried beneath the big summer blockbusters this year were two movies I actually wanted to see.
When faced with the choice between stupid teenage wizards, stupid Shia LaBeouf and stupid Horrible Bosses, I'll pass and take deranged vigilantes anytime. One hits evildoers with a wrench - the other shoots them with a shotgun. Neither gets a decent cinema release. As I ventured into my local cinema on a busy Tuesday night, I noted that three quarters of the screens had been dedicated to stupid movies that I care not a jot about. Transformers and Harry Potter must have been showing in at least five screens each. My eagerly awaited Super didn't even get a look in. Hidden in a small dingy corner of the cinema was Hobo With A Shotgun, the only thing I'll care about seeing until maybe Conan or definitely The Inbetweeners. The only reason I'd see Harry Potter is to catch a glimpse of next year's Dark Knight Rises*.
With typical movie snob elitist smugness, I purchased myself a ticket for Hobo With A Shotgun (although, I'll admit I felt a little saying to the cashier "one Hobo With A Shotgun plz") and wandered into the nearly empty screening room. Warm with the knowledge that I was supporting the little guy, I was thoroughly rewarded with the most fun I've had at the cinema since Kick-Ass. Hobo With A Shotgun is a faux-Grindhouse style throwback (it originated as one of those fake trailers what are all the rage now) just like Machete, Black Dynamite and, uh, Grindhouse. Hobo With A Shotgun ranks alongside Black Dynamite as my favourite of the spoof Grinhouses.
From an aesthetic standpoint, it's the strongest. The music, setting, garish colours, crappy script and whole shebang just scream 70s' Italian sleaze, as does everything about Hobo With A Shotgun. From its excellently judged opening sequence alone, I knew I'd love this movie. The always reliable Rutger Hauer is The Hobo. He arrives via train in Hope Town; his own hope being to buy a lawnmower and start his own business. But The Hobo is waylaid when he discovers just how scummy Hope Town is. He's drawn into a vicious vendetta against Ganglord Drake (Downey) and his evil sons. The Hobo buys himself a shotgun and sets about bringing justice to Hope Town... one shell at a time.
Not everybody will like Hobo With A Shotgun, despite the fact that it is clearly awesome. Like The Taint writ large, movies like this remind me why I love movies so much. It's gleefully offensive, stupid and witty at the same time ("Hobo stops begging. Demands change") and just fun through and through. Some will think it unimaginative, but therein lies the peril in making an intentionally bad movie. Not all of it works. The very concept of pastiche Grindhouse breaks the fourth wall, so that it's hard to forget that you're only watching a movie.
But it's less boring than Machete (probably my biggest disappointment of last year) and its gags hit far more than they miss. Rutger Hauer is astonishingly earnest when one considers the material he's working with; by far the movie's biggest selling point. It's his most entertaining movie since The Hitcher and a real throwback to the likes of his Blind Fury.
Eventually, it all collapses under its own weight and the finale is a bit of a mess - too much screaming and people frantically being grabbed as hostages - but Hobo With A Shotgun is a loveable shambles, like The Hobo himself.
Dude, it's a movie about a Hobo With A Shotgun. Make of that what you will. I like it unironically, but you may love it however you wish.
* I make exceptions for big Blockbuster movies when they're about the Goddamn Batman.