By: Gabriel El Dorado (Three Beers) –
If I could open this review with a loud and aggressive guitar riff, I would because that would embody the spirit and zest of Hesher but seeing as how my amps do not go to 11(if you don’t get that stop reading now and do something physically destructive to yourself) my scant musical ability would result in the inevitable Darfur guitar solos.
With much of the film’s tones and attitude being derived from its original inspiration, heavy metal music and culture, Hesher is a film that has not been compromised by Hollywood stereotypes and formulas. Instead, it stays true to itself and the aura Joseph Gordon-Levitt creates (he plays Hesher, just FYI) and doesn’t really seem to care if you find that repulsive or bizarre.
Nothing screams anarchy like stick figure tattoos.
The film follows T.J.(Devin Brochu) and his father Paul Forney (Rainn Wilson) as they are recuperating from the loss of T.J.’s mother/Paul’s wife. With Paul spending most of his time wallowing and swallowing (I know, I know, impressive rhyme scheme) pills, the Forney’s have moved into Paul’s mothers, Madeleine’s( Piper Laurie) house, so she can help with T.J. and support Paul. However, as expected, T.J. spends most of his time outside the house getting into random mischief, leading to the eventual introduction of Hesher (Joseph-Gordon Levitt).
After T.J. inadvertently exposes the spot where Hesher was squatting, Hesher moves in with the family. This explanation might be a tad misleading; Hesher literally appears at the house (very phantomlike) and just moves in without asking. However, no one seems to care or is curious about the grungy individual now occupying the couch in his underwear. I found it weird, but none of the character’s seemed to mind, making it seem even weirder. The rest of film follows the family as they try to come to terms with the loss while simultaneously interacting with and managing Hesher.
Judging by the picture, I’d say Hesher is a writer
…to Joseph Gordon Levitt and his turn as Hesher. Without Hesher, the film would be awful. He dominates every scene he is in and responsible for any entertainment value. The best part of the character is the unpredictability. Just when you may think Hesher will soften and doing something remotely humane, he pisses on your expectations. He refuses to be house-broken, which is admirable. Hesher is a freak show and as long as we can watch from a safe distance, freak shows are immensely entertaining. Why do you think TLC is thriving? It only starts to suck once that freak show is related to or knows you. Joseph Gordon Levitt is one of the best young actors (possibly overall but let’s not go crazy) in the game right now and he can now check off iconic cult-performance off his to-do list (which they totally have, saw it on REELZ Channel).
What I am about to say is going to cause a shit storm of controversy. Natalie Portman is a very overrated actress (BUT SHE JUST WON BEST ACTRESS, HOW CAN YOU EVEN SAY THAT?!?!). Well, enraged hypothetical reader, Portman typically plays some form of wounded, vulnerable female, who ALWAYS ends up crying (think back to a film where you didn’t see Portman cry; she is essentially a sorority girl on her 21st). In Hesher, Portman’s character falls flat compared to Gordon Levitt’s, creating this emptiness where solid support should have been. Luckily nothing spectacular was needed due to Gordon Levitt’s Hesher being so intriguing, but it would have been nice if she wasn’t so obnoxiously dull. This could be due to screenwriting, but still Portman does her best to make a bland character borderline excruciating.
Also, when will Hollywood stop casting attractive girls to play unnoticed losers? No audience member is ever going to fall for that (Not even Michael Bay enthusiasts) and putting her in sweat shirts and weird glasses are not going to cover up the fact that she will always be smoking hot. Don’t try to trick me movie magic, my libido is never wrong.
See, not wrong.
Hesher(as expected) is completely obsessed with its main character, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but they are called ‘films’ and not ‘characters’ for a reason( I know it’s a cute slogan, leave me alone). Outside of the eccentric lead, the film really has no strong points. This is a major flaw and the main reason why most of the critics (pompous assholes, where do they get off?) gave it bad reviews and they definitely have an argument. However, I am not sure I mentioned how awesome Hesher was, which is why I could overlook the weaker points and appreciate the film for what it really was.
Yeah, it’s not perfect but neither are you, tubby internet nerd, so if you enjoy the brazen metal culture then Hesher is definitely worth the viewing. There are some emotionally affecting and introspective moments that are the real hidden nuggets of the film if you can get past the antics of Hesher, making it worthwhile for non-metal enthusiasts. However, if you are easily offended and are not huge fan of bizarre characters, then don’t talk to me because I can tell we will have nothing in common.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time metal plays.
Take a Drink: every time Hesher sets something on fire
Take a Drink: every time T.J. gets bullied or interacts with the bully.
Chug a Beer: when Hesher chugs a beer.
Chug a Beer: when Hesher uses a completely inappropriate story for a life metaphor.