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Hobo With A Shogun Review: I Wupped Batman's Ass

By Brian Prisco | Film | March 18, 2011 |

By Brian Prisco | Film | March 18, 2011 |

Hobo With A Shotgun is the most accurate movie title I’ve come across in many years. It’s a film about a hobo with a shotgun, dispatching criminal elements with his trusty shotgun, in the faux grindhouse style we’ve become accustomed to. It’s hard to deny the sheer bloodsplody fun of the film, and as I’ve been telling people asking if they should see it, “If you’re excited to see a hobo kill people with a shotgun, then you’ll get what you want.” The only thing that really bothers me is that once more we’re subject to the ironic seventies style grindhouse motif. I really wished that writer/director Jason Eisener had eschewed the winking and just made a real B-movie. Rutger Hauer’s performance is so earnest and hilarious, I kinda wish they weren’t just making a disposable bloodfest. B-movies can be cheesy, hyper-violent, corny, zany, without having to pretend to be bad on purpose. Will you enjoy it? Of course you will. But I’m disappointed at what it could have been.

Hobo With a Shotgun is about The Hobo (Rutger Hauer), who leaps the rails seeking a better life in an idyllic Canadian town where longs to own his own lawn mower. Instead, he finds himself caught up in the frenzied schemes of The Drake (Brian Downey), a vile big boss man who looks like a manic evangelist in his white suits and who runs the two with the assistance of his two meathead sons, Ivan (Nick Bateman) and Slick (Gregory Smith, Ephram from “Everwood”). They cruise around in letterman jackets, delivering savagely cheesy lines and beating up on people. The Hobo stops them from raping a prostitute named Abby (Molly Dunsworth), who takes him in and tends to his wounds. On a deluded vigilante kick, the Hobo goes to a pawn shop but instead of purchasing his long-beloved lawnmower, he opts for a shotgun, which he then uses to kill every wrongdoer in town.

Hauer plays the Hobo straight, which is amazing considering the batshit monologues he has to deliver. I wanted to see them make him actually insane; it would have been astonishing and taken the film to the next level. If Hauer’s Hobo was genuinely an insane person, a heady combination of RoboCop, Wesley Willis, and Clint Eastwood, it would have given the film a creepier vibe. Our hero is so insane, he’s just shooting people because he can. But I guess I’m asking too much from a joke-trailer brought to life. I’ll reserve my hopes for Werewolf Women of the S.S. or Thanksgiving.

Most of the lines were funny because they were so terrible it was hilarious to hear someone actually say that. But that’s where most of the film comes from — this is so over-the-top bad that it has to reach good eventually, right? And the blood effects were many, with Tromatic mania abounding. Heads and torsos savagely blood sausaged, buckets of guts and blood and fun. I laughed my ass off, but I guess I couldn’t see past the movie it could have been. It’s like watching a talented musician busking for coins in a subway. Clearly, you’re way better than this, but if you’re happy where you’re at, I guess that’s cool for us both.

I’m just personally done with the ironic grindhouse shit. I say that as both a Troma fan, and an adorer of Black Dynamite. Why was that better? Michael Jai White was doing the same stuff as Tarantino and Rodriguez, only he seemed to be coming from a place of honesty. His parody had brains behind it, not just an excuse to half-ass a movie and foist off the bad writing as ironic. I look at something like Piranha 3D which was a terrible movie, but a terrible amount of fun. I think you can still do the exploitative blood and boobs fest without defensively wrapping yourself in the self-conscious shield. You can make a bad movie without trying to make a bad movie, but if you really are honest we’ll still go along with it for the most part. There’s a voracious appetite for films with nothing but guts and nuts and butts, going for insane gore rather than atmospheric horror. I kind of wish filmmakers would make the effort to go for an A movie rather than the Easy B.