Nick J’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sorry for the late review guys, I cut my fingers on this edgy movie.
Ha, bad joke out of the way, of course this appeals to me, a grown man who still shops at Hot Topic and Spencer's. Dark, depressing, hypnotic, chilling, nihilistic, mind-blowing, most of these adjectives I had expected to give the film going into it, but nobody told me how funny this film is. If "Freddy Got Fingered" didn't exist, it might be my pick for the funniest film of 2001. Seriously, that debate about the Smurfs was just priceless fun. I had a great time when I was supposed to have a great time and I was drawn in when things got quite darko. It's a nice late 80's-early 90's aesthetic, from the setting designs to the score and the soundtrack (with some of my personal favorites such as Joy Division, Tears for Fears, and Echo & the BUNNYMEN [if you didn't already need any more foreshadowing]) to the satire around the nuclear family and small-town schooling (complete with a terrible educational VHS). I'm just really impressed with the amount of genres present in this film that feel so fluent and congruent rather than being smashed into a film like a can of sardines...or a Friedberg and Seltzer "parody" film. Coming of age, avant-garde, horror, science-fiction, comedy, psychological drama, it just works so well and you never know what you're going to get on the first viewing. The overall story is interesting and engaging with noteworthy diversions, both something to overanalyze and something to enjoy the ride. Only real gripe I have are the CGI effects, which have dated very poorly. It's a part of the early-2000's charm of the film, but it is quite distracting.
Performances are really good too. Jake Gyllenhaal clearly demonstrates his main star potential with the range he has to go through with the character, even if he can be a bit too goofy for my tastes, and the rest of the cast dons their role well, especially Beth Grant's Mrs. Kitty Farmer. And it's just crazy how many retroactive cameos there are. Seth Rogen, Ashley Tisdale, and Jerry Trainor all in the same film? Man, the early 2000's were weird.
It's dark, it's edgy, it's counterculture, it's brimming with nihilism, but I was engaged for the 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds of the film. I wish I could go back in time to watch this earlier and I wish I could go forward after some time has passed to rewatch and reinterpret this film.