Posted on Monday, April 30th, 2012 by Angie Han
Given the high-profile cast (Kristen Wiig, Gillian Jacobs, Bobby Moynihan, Elijah Wood, Kevin Corrigan, Adam Brody, Garret Dillahunt, David Rasche, Jayne Atkinson, and Ryan Phillippe all appear) and its billing as a dark comedy, you’d think it’d be reasonable to expect a twisted good time from Chadd Harbold‘s Revenge for Jolly! You’d be wrong. Neither sharp enough to be genuinely entertaining nor incompetent enough to be ironically hilarious, Revenge for Jolly! may just be the most insipid killing spree you’ll ever watch.
Brian Petsos, who also wrote and produced, leads the cast as a solitary man named Harry whose only love in life is his adorable miniature pinscher Jolly. When Harry somehow pisses off the wrong people, poor blameless Jolly is brutally murdered in retaliation. So Harry enlists the help of his cousin Cecil (Oscar Isaac) to track down the man responsible and make him pay. Drunk off of their asses and high as kites, the pair spend the day driving around town in search of the culprit. Their first stop is a bar, where they demand answers from a bartender (Wood), get them, and then kill him anyway. Then they do the same thing about a dozen more times.
If that seems like a severe overreaction to the death of a beloved pet, it absolutely is. Though Harry insists, via clunky voiceover, that he’s just a good guy driven to do bad things, his actions prove him to be the kind of person who slaughters an innocent bystander simply for getting salad dressing on his shoes — not a good guy at all, in other words, and certainly not someone to root for. Yet the endlessly dull Harry can’t make for a memorable villain, either, and the film takes no joy in his harmful deeds. There’s no attempt at creativity or cool here; in Revenge for Jolly!, killing people looks about as exciting as stuffing envelopes. It might feel nastier if it weren’t all so boring.
The utter tedium of the proceedings can’t even be livened up by the impressive cast list, perhaps because most of the famous folks’ roles amount to cameos. Some actors do more with their bit parts than others. Rasche makes a particularly strong impression as a suited type who spews vitriol and oozes sliminess all the way to his bitter end, while Corrigan draws some of the film’s only laughs as a wildly inappropriate wedding guest. By and large, however, the only notable aspect of any of these bit parts is that they’re filled by people you’ve previously liked in other, much better things.
The one major exception to this – and the closest thing Revenge for Jolly! has to a saving grace — is Isaac. He plays Cecil as a charismatic sociopath who seems to have no idea that he’s not just a regular guy, and the hint of tension between those two sides make him far more captivating than dimwitted Harry could ever hope to be. Which still isn’t saying much, but that Isaac even comes close to bringing this movie to life is a testament to both his talent and his work ethic. Thank God this rising star has since moved on to projects more deserving of his talents, like The Bourne Identity and the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis.
/Film rating: 1.0 out of 10.0