Ken (Ken Marino) has suffered a long time from the worst stomach problems. How long? “For … ever.” They’re the kind of stomach problems that require hour-long sessions in the bathroom. When he finally goes to see a specialist, he learns that there’s something down there in his colon. “You got a little trooper in your pooper,” the doctor says, informing Ken that he appears to have a polyp. But it’s not a polyp.
Folks are quick and eager these days to dub a movie the champion of some genre, but I am comfortable in unequivocally declaring that Milo is best butt monster movie of all time. Butt monster, what? Yes. Butt monster. That polyp is actually a demon — Ken has a demon living in his colon. It’s name is Milo. It’s adorable … and violent. If you’re asking yourself how a demon living in a man’s lower intestinal tract can be violent, there’s an easy way for a demon like that to get out and go muck about in the world. You do the math.
Ken leads a simple existence. He’s an accountant with a dick of a boss (Patrick Warburton) but a loving wife Sarah (Gillian Jacobs) waiting at home for him. He’s got a smothering mother (Mary Kay Place), an estranged father (Stephen Root), and a hippy-trippy shrink (Peter Stormare) trying to help him make sense of it all. And, well, he’s got a demon up his ass. I realize that “man has a demon living in his colon” is a stupid log-line. So do the filmmakers; but they also realize that it can be gloriously stupid. And so what Milo does is elevate this nonsensical idea to the heights of comedy-horror films like Black Sheep, Bubba Ho-Tep, Evil Dead II and Gremlins.
The key to the film is that Marino plays things completely straight. This is by no means the first time Marino has been in a ridiculously-premised piece (“I wanna dip my balls in it!”), nor is it the first time that he’s committed to that premise whole-cloth. But where he doesn’t play something in the wacky/funny vein, he is usually playing it in way where the performance buys into the premise but still borders on the ridiculous. A “heightened-straight,” for lack of a better term (I’m thinking, specifically, of what he does in the hilarious Children’s Hospital). But here, while the situation is preposterous, there’s absolutely nothing ridiculous about Ken. That’s not to suggest that Marino is not hilarious, because of course he is. But Marino allows his character to react as one realistically would in this situation (if, you know, a man had a creature living up his ass), letting the comedy and laughs come from the situation and dialogue.
This is where Bad Milo shines, because there are plenty of laughs, as the film is much more a comedy-horror film than a comedy-horror film. On the horror side, the film keeps things fun, with a lot of blood, but little on-screen violence (save mainly for one scene which is the height of grotesque and absolutely riotous). The movie is a ridiculous farce with humor that is sometimes dark, sometimes silly and frequently vulgar. Because Marino is low-key and tone-perfect, it allows the other actors to play around with their characters a little more. Stormare’s doctor can be hilariously quirky, stroking Ken’s face with a feather while hypnotizing him; Place’s mother can inappropriately quip about the size of her son’s penis while her too-young boyfriend makes subtle anal sex jokes; Warbuton can play a surprisingly restrained character who his hilarious in his callous dickishness; and Stephen Root can be Stephen Root (he does no wrong, ever). Jacobs is not given such free reign on the comedic-character side of things (unfortunate, as “Community” shows how funny she can be), but it makes sense because she similarly needs to play things straight in order for Marino’s performance to work. She nevertheless delivers perfectly, particularly in a late moment that Marino describes as “a beautiful scene between husband and wife.” We’ll let history decide if this is one of the all-time great scenes of spousal intimacy.
All this works because the film is smartly put together. A film like Bad Milo could be a low-budget mess, but the practical effects don’t reveal any hint of a straining budget. Milo is wisely not made of CGI bits and bytes. Director Jacob Vaughn keeps things sharp but simple, smartly keeping things moving while staying out of the way so that his cast can do what they do so well. The writing (the film was co-written by newcomers Vaughn and Benjamin Hayes) is both funny yet natural. Well, as natural as it can be (demon, colon, etc.), all of which combines to give us a movie that is simply entertaining as all get-out.