Freaks of Nature

star2star2

This movie didn’t fare well for me so close to seeing Deadpool. It simply tries too hard to break the mold. If anything, it raised my opinion of Deadpool a couple notches, reminding me just how tenuous humor and playing with tropes can be.

Freaks actually does a few things right, particularly in its last third, but getting there was rather painful at times. The jokes are sophomoric at best (they may even rank below pubescent). But the willingness to drop you in a crazy world and not even bother to explain it was good. The structure of the whole actually comes together; though a lot is massively telegraphed, some really isn’t.

The talent is surprising. The younger cast, who are the main characters, included up and comers Nicholas Braun (Perks of Being a Wallflower), Mackenzie Davis (The Martian), and lesser known to me, but very well heeled, Josh Fadem. In addition, there is Vanessa Hudgens (Gimme Shelter), Ed Westwick(Gossip Girl), and Chris Zylka (Leftovers) in key roles.

The adult cast includes broadly comic roles by Denis Leary (Draft Day), Joan Cusack (Mars Needs Moms),  Bob Odenkirk (Nebraska), Keegan-Michael Key (Tomorrowland), Patton Oswalt (Young Adult), and there is even an appearance by Werner Herzog. The adults are much less believable than the teens, but that is largely by design.

Despite the cast and the amusing wrap-up to this romp, I can’t recommend it without mind-altering assistance. This is barely a rainy Saturday afternoon affair. There are so many better comedies out there in this area: Shaun of the Dead, Attack the Block, Fido, What We Do in the Shadows, to name a few.┬áBut if you must, you must–it isn’t a complete loss… just grit your teeth through the setups so you can enjoy the final punches.

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