Saturday, June 20, 2020

Movie Reviews: Becky

directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion
In the mid seventies this would have been the sort of movie that might have had Jodie Foster as its star. Children should not watch this film. That includes its titular child lead actress. The short description of Becky might be Home Alone meets Saw. In other words, if you are at all sensitive to depictions of violence, this is not, repeat NOT the film for you. Got it???

Even if you are inured to gruesome violence, this film goes over the top showing the violence suffered, but mostly committed by its teen anti-heroine. I'm not joking. This film is not comedic except occasionally in the most over the top way that might appeal to the most jaded horror/thriller viewers. The only deference to viewer sensibilities is that we are spared sexual assault, which given the circumstances, could have been expected.

Since at least River Tam and proceeding thru Arya Stark there have been many occasionally tongue in cheek but often serious filmic or novelistic depictions of young, small, teen or preteen girls who are often able to outwit or outfight one or more fully grown male adversaries, or at least hold them at bay until the cavalry arrives, so to speak. Becky takes that trope, turns it up to 11 and stomps on the distortion pedal. But it also very broadly hints that the ability to commit violence is not something to be admired or sought after. This little girl has some problems. 

That the targets of Becky's ire deserve it doesn't change the fact that as with the protagonist in the film Taxi Driver, the next time this pint-size dynamo goes off, the people impacted might be innocent. Becky (Lulu Wilson) is a morose, petite, teen girl who is still struggling to process her mother's recent death from cancer. 

Becky acts out at school, refuses to interact with her father Jeff (Joel McHale) with anything remotely involving respect, shoplifts, and like a lot of people with emotional problems wants to make sure that everyone around knows that she's mad.

Very mad. Extremely mad. If I did or said half the things she did when I was her age I would have gotten hurt. But times have changed haven't they?

Adding to Becky's brooding anger is the fact that her soft willed schmuck of a father has abruptly informed her that they won't be the only ones at their lakefront vacation home as Becky thought. No, instead Jeff has invited his new girlfriend fiancee Kayla (Amanda Brugel) and her young son Ty to join them. 

Jeff tells Becky that she had better get used to seeing a lot of Kayla and Ty. Jeff and Kayla intend to marry. Becky is outraged. It's apparently not even been much beyond a year, if that, since Becky's mother passed away. Furious by what she sees as an unwelcome and even unholy imposition, Becky snarls some rude things and leaves for the woods. Becky's only friends are her Cane Corso dogs.

A group of Neo-Nazi prisoners led by the imposing Dominick (Kevin James) have engineered an escape from custody. The men are headed for Jeff's and Becky's home where Dominick believes he will find a very important item. 

Dominick is genial, polite, and will snuff out a human life with about as much thought as you change your socks.

James' role is not quite as meaty as it could have been but it's definitely far away from the Doug Hefferman/King Of Queens and other mostly harmless decent fat guy roles that he usually plays. James makes you wonder what other leading man or leading villain abilities might have been hiding behind a long career of self-deprecation.

Wilson's Becky transitions from teen petulance to near psychosis almost seamlessly. She doesn't take the violation of her home lightly. What she lacks in size and muscle mass she makes up for in inventiveness and sheer bloody-mindedness. Her not so repressed rage from her mother's death, her father's "betrayal", and a few other events swiftly goes from controlled burn to nuclear bomb. 

The viewer can decide where the demarcations are among grief, rage, and shock. Wilson demonstrates all of those, sometimes at once. The script wasn't that good; Brugel doesn't get to do much. This is really a cat and mouse game between James' and Wilson's characters. And they give strong performances.
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