Dildos, like farts, are always funny and there are plenty of both in writer/director/editor Jordan Mears debut feature(ish) film, New West. Well, to be honest, I don’t know that I can confidently say I remember any particular instances of flatuation but trust me - there are plenty of gags involving dicks, dildos, and...rubber horse masks? Different function for the word "rubber" than you might have expected given the previous few sentences, huh? Well, that's what makes Mears and company's trip down South all the more enjoyable: it's mostly unpredictable (and often pretty funny to boot). Whether in sight, sound, or purely by association the gags built around these "lewd" objects shaped like erect penises used for sexual stimulation along with a particularly sturdy rubber horse mask, New West is a frothy and filthy little excursion that takes sincere pleasure in delivering what so few trips to the cinema tend to offer these days in that it is a pure, unadulterated broad comedy. Speaking of unexpected word functions regarding this movie - don't expect to see "pure" in the same sentence as New West anywhere else. 

With the shift to streaming and the expansion of platforms for which content is being produced comedy is the genre that has suffered the most given different flavors of the genre have each found their niche in different silos of the culture, meeting the needs of multiple segments of the population, but no longer bringing us together as they once did so casually (or frequently). Now, I'm not saying New West is here to right the ship of the broad comedy or even that, should it see the light of day beyond the festival circuit, it will be for everybody but what I am saying is that it demonstrates there is a hunger for the communal comedy experience once again after the onslaught of negative world events and abundance of bad news that has hammered citizens of the planet from every direction for what feels like the better part of a decade now. With New West, Mears along with co-writer, composer, and actor Coty Greenwood have crafted what is clearly something they knew would make themselves laugh, something that they had a grand time concocting, and something that - while sometimes vile - clearly has good intentions and aspirations given those don't seem to stretch for anything more than bringing a group of friends and/or strangers together to make them laugh.

Gene (Matt Jordan) is out for blood in the dirty but well-meaning comedy New West.

New West
begins by highlighting one of its strongest attributes in Greenwood's score and original compositions for the film. While Greenwood utilizes tropes of the western and folk genres to give the film its sense of energy and urgency (which it genuinely does - there are some real grooves present here) a wholly original score is nothing to take for granted on a production of this size. Greenwood and Mears lace music throughout not so much as a tool to dictate the emotions they hope their images or story provoke but more as a way to influence and emphasize tone. Tone is of the utmost importance when it comes to movies whose content includes a scene where "snatch juice" is involved and the fact the awareness of as much is as present as said dildo jokes should be appreciated almost as much as the wholly authentic and completely credible score. Mears and Greenwood's script flies through jokes as quick as the score does banjo plucks, hardly leaving room for one any of them to fall flat. This method may not hold up as well on repeat viewings but judging by the laughter at the premiere screening the audience didn't seem to mind being bombarded with the laugh-a-minute tactics employed by the creators. It is something of a double-edged sword though, as the screenplay is also where the film leaves the most to be desired. Yes, there are jokes and gags aplenty and it is evident from shot one that these guys aren't trying to break the storytelling mould or delve deep into complex emotions or even necessarily say anything of any relevance with the project and yet the construction of the revenge plot at the heart of the film and the building out of the character dynamics feels rushed not in the sense that it doesn't make sense, but more in the way viewers are expected to understand how these types of stories work and therefore New West doesn't feel the need to fill in certain gaps. A prime example of this is the introduction of a new character in the third act of this (admittedly brief) feature that is a function purely of plot rather than something that was inherently born out of the storytelling up to that point. The film's conclusion still works due largely to the aforementioned tone that is established and maintained, but it does lend the impression the freewheeling nature of the characters may have bled a little too much into the filmmaking process which, when stacked up against the cinematography, productions design, and score, makes it clear this was not the case at all.

Said story introduces us to its seemingly noble protagonists through an original song credited in the film to the duo of Trigger (Greenwood in the rubber horse mask) and Gene (played in flashback by Zach Keast) as we come to understand these two best friends once had the world at their feet due to their promising music career. As these things go (and as narration by Mike Brabender will tell it) Trigger would go on to parlay this early success into starring roles in blockbuster movies eventually become something of a Hollywood icon while Gene was unable to get out of his own way relegating him to play the hits at any venue willing to shell a couple bucks in his direction. We meet up with an older, more inebriated Gene (Matt Jordan) on one of these nights where he's drowning his sorrows in a drink, pontificating about the "good ole days" to an uninterested bartender and singing for crowds who likely have no idea who he is or folks who'd seemingly prefer to be anywhere else besides the bar Gene is playing at once he actually begins playing. After another foul set garnering some obscene (but again, oftentimes hilarious) reactions Gene stumbles out of the tavern - with a hilariously forthright name, I might add - and almost immediately into the arms of a hit squad resembling something out of a Robert Rodriguez or Edgar Wright flick. The masked men then naturally dispense with the pleasantries quite quickly before (spoiler alert!) killing Gene in cold blood. The catalyst of Gene's death brings Trigger back to town from which the revenge plot then unfolds, Trigger eventually coming face to face with a figure from both he and Gene's past who is responsible for the death of his old partner. While the narrative isn't anywhere near as wild as the film's sense of humor it does allow audiences the opportunity to see what made Trigger and Gene such a dynamic duo in the first place. Greenwood is the inverse of what one might think of when picturing a comedic leading man, but his dry delivery and a running gag involving the snout of his mask are some of the most effortlessly funny moments the film has to offer. Jordan brings a brashness to the has-been Gene that compliments the more relaxed demeaner of Trigger which is especially fun to see play out when the two find themselves in a string of tense situations. Though the third act can feel somewhat clunky at times as the film attempts to wrap up its plotting rather quickly it is the relationship between Gene and Trigger that not only keeps us entertained but keeps us invested in where these crazy cowboys might go next.

Hitmen Cody Wiley (left) and Daniel Lee Harris (right) are set to execute Trigger (Coty Greenwood) in Jordan Mears' outlandish comedy.

Speaking to the more technical aspects of the film, New West is a breath of fresh air when it comes to locally made micro-budget movies as Mears is able to pull off a scope and integrity to his picture that would lead any unaware audience member to believe there was real money behind this thing. From the clean, crisp, vibrant animation integrated into the opening sequence to the natural sound design that accompanies the older and more intoxicated Gene when slumming it at the local dive bar the professionalism of this wholly unprofessional venture is not to be diminished. Mears is a director who feeds off the offensive while making sure he always has something to balance it with whether that be another dick joke or actual heart. It's a difficult line to walk, but New West - especially for a first feature(ish) film - is impressive not just for the technical proficiency it possesses, but for the way it so slickly executes on what was clearly the intention of the project since its inception. It is one thing to set out to make a dirty, rude, disgusting comedy about a guy in a horse mask who is also credible as a stone-cold killer, but to materialize that vision into something that somehow makes that crazy concept work is another accomplishment altogether. Mears and Greenwood demonstrate a working relationship with their actors that would suggest their aptitude for this kind of creativity is high as well given each of the primary performances are in tune with the overall tone of the film. Jordan is especially noteworthy as the older, more grizzled Gene while a cameo appearance from Daniel Lee Harris in a scene-stealing role is a character I wouldn't mind seeing more series anyone? So no, New West won't be competing for any Academy Awards (what comedies do?), but in a world where we've all sanctioned ourselves off into social media bubbles where we're surrounded only by others who share our worldview so as to feel better about our view of the world isn't it about time someone re-introduced some chaos? New West might not be the broad comedy that brings us all back together, but it could certainly serve as the spark that ignites the flame...which then of course would lead to one of those fart gags I mentioned in the beginning to accompany the many (glorious) dildo bits New West will no doubt end up being most known for.

1 comment:

  1. Un jour je raconterai à mes enfants notre histoire d'amour, le seul dommage est qu'ils n'auront pas ses yeux..... Et le cinéma y est pour quelque chose.