We reviewed a film called Butt Boy and this is our review of a film called Butt Boy
The worst sin a film titled Butt Boy can commit is taking itself too seriously.
Like the rest of us, the film’s Writer, Director, and Star Tyler Cornack is not without sin and greatly struggles to find a successful tone with his farty farce. Though there are glimpses of sharp humor and creativity, Butt Boy’s incoherent tone turns it into an absurd Frankesntien’s Monster film.
You want to enjoy its strange nature despite its faults, but left alone with it in your room with all lights out, you can’t help but feel uneasy.
Butt Boy is an absurd neo-noir with missing children and magical butts. I wish Sam Fuller was alive to see what the genre has become. Tyler Cornack plays Chip, an everyday IT Guy with a broken marriage, struggling with the monotiny of his life. After Chip’s first prostate exam, he becomes obsessed with sticking things up his rear. The intense feeling of objects mysteriously disappearing inside his body, flames a new addiction for Chip. Nothing is safe from Chip’s butt, whether it be remotes, trophies, or even small dogs. Chip goes too far in his butt stuffing and disappears something incredibly valuable. Detective Fox (Tyler Rice) is put on the case to find what is missing, as he simultaneously gets close with Chip through their new AA sponsorship pairing.
The premise alone can effectively weed people out from giving Butt Boy a chance. The film is clearly not for everyone and to Cornack’s credit, the film does not try to disguise itself as something that it’s not, just for the sake of gaining a bigger audience. The film simply being called Butt Boy takes a copious amount of courage for marketing purposes.
The issues with the film, however, are with those who don’t mind turning on the immature part of their brain and dipping into the bizarre. Butt Boy is comfortable with making audiences uncomfortable but lacks a concrete tone which keeps viewers away from fully engaging. The events of the film are absurd and much to the traditional style of absurdism, the actors play it completely straight. There are humorous moments that arrive from this, but both Cornack and Rice are too good of dramatic actors to make it properly pull off the comedy. Most of the side characters act as if they are performing improv, while the leads give it their dramatic all. Both are incredibly believable and give strong performances, however, it doesn’t fit with the film’s not just the absurd plot, but with the film’s noir style, awkward pacing, and action score.
Swiss Army Man is a contemporary absurdist film that Butt Boy can easily be compared to. Both films have two male leads, commentary on masculinity, magical realism, and farts being the butt of many jokes. What makes Swiss Army Man work where Butt Boy doesn’t, is the tongue and cheek nature it carries throughout it’s run time. While both films play the absurdity with a straight face, Swiss Army Man owns it’s weirdness in a way that Butt Boy doesn’t. A lot of this has to do with Paul Dano and Danielle Radcliffe’s comedic skills in Swiss Army Man as they treat the absurd as absurd while still playing by the rules of the film’s universe. The plot of Swiss Army Man is straightforward and its excellent human moments come from personal realizations of the characters, not the constant need to one-up the absurdity like Butt Boy does. Butt Boy attempts to juggle too many balls by going into too many directions. Though the parody of an “Upsidedown” like realm is hilarious, the filming going in so many different directions, makes every plot point feel half-baked and prohibits a proper connection with the characters.
Ironically, Butt Boy would have been better with less butt stuff. If the strange stakes were set in the beginning and the film followed a more focused path in contrast to the inane, then the results would have been a lot more compelling. The film’s best moments come from the relationship of Chip and Detective Rice. Their initial one-on-one meet up at a dinner is a highlight of the film, as it’s rich with dialogue, while showing the human side of the characters. The blunt conversation the two have is gripping with dramatic irony but also amusing seeing these two actually come to life. This scene shows that there is the framework for a fun indie buddy film that’s bathed in the bizarre. The film though in it’s out of control pacing turns away from this too quickly, leaving audiences wanting more of the personal and less of the heightening of the drama that doesn’t really work.
Even when something in Butt Boy doesn’t make much sense, the film makes it look really good. Butt Boy’s cinematography and lighting design is marvelous. Playing on the low key lighting styles of traditional noirs, while adding in bright humorous elements was like candy for the eyes. The scene at the laser-tag arena was aggravating in terms of pacing but was one of the most visually pleasing scenes I’ve ever watched in an independent film of this nature. The mise-en-scene was the saving grace of the film many times and goes to show you don’t need a big budget to make a film look great when you have a copious amount of creativity.
Butt Boy is the perfect genre festival film. The film premiered at Fantastic Fest, to what I imagine was an open-minded audience ready for discourse. Atmospheres like that allow for Butt Boy and films like it, to thrive as audiences are electric having a communal experience of trying to make sense of what the hell is happening. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 films with crazy premises aren’t able to travel to the festival circuit. It’s important to watch and support films with challenging ideas that are removed from the mainstream, with Butt Boy however, it’s potential magic is lost when you watch alone in isolation. I envy those who were able to watch it in a crowd. Hopefully, the future Butt Boys will have a better fate.