Fantastic Fest 2011: HEADHUNTERS and NEW KIDS TURBO

by George Hickman on September 26, 2011

in Blogs

Fantastic Fest 2011 is under way, and contributor George Hickman is filing his reports each day as the festival and its movie events continue. Here are a couple condensed-reviews of new films at Fantastic Fest this year.

Headhunters (rock fist way up)

The Norwegian crime comedy “Headhunters,” based on a bestselling novel, tells the story of Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie). At 1.68 meters tall (approximately 5’5”), he admits in the opening narration he has always felt that the need to compensate. Spending well beyond his means to try and keep his beautiful, intelligent, and statuesque wife Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund) surrounded by the luxury he feels she deserves, Roger looks for ways to supplement his income.

As a widely respected “headhunter,” he recruits employment candidates for large corporations by day, and steals expensive pieces of art on the side.

Yes, Roger is the man responsible for a series of art thefts from private collectors that has perplexed law enforcement and is drawing increasing police scrutiny. Fortunately, a chance for one last big score practically falls into his lap as the dashing Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) enters the lives of both the Roger and his wife. Of course, “last big scores” never go as planned and he soon finds himself fighting for his life in a fierce game of cat and mouse that threatens both his life and his marriage.

While “Headhunters” works extremely well as a suspenseful action film, it works even better as a comedy of errors as our flawed hero finds himself having to outwit the type of man he always secretly wanted to be. The more the odds are stacked against him, the funnier the film gets. It manages a great balance between its various elements.

But the most impressive element is the ultimately touching relationship between Roger and Diana. It adds a depth the film could have succeeded without, but is enriched by its presence.

“Headhunters” is the type of foreign film that Hollywood loves to remake, viewing it as much as a formula than as a film. While it’s not too difficult to imagine someone like Tom Cruise as Roger Brown, its hard to imagine a remake succeeding in all the ways “Headhunters” does.

New Kids Turbo (rock fist way up)

There are a thousand reasons I should hate “New Kids Turbo,” but thankfully nearly all those reasons are worked out within the first 10 minutes.

It tells the story of five abrasive morons, every one a shining example of the Dutch equivalent of white trash. Their greatest collective ambition in life is to do nothing but drink, eat junk food, and have sex. When they all lose their jobs on the same day, it seems like that ambition may come true. Unfortunately their unemployment benefits aren’t enough to fund their lifestyle.

The mulleted and mustachioed men may be irredeemable idiotic jerks, but the the plot does have an interesting thought experiment at its core: what would happen if people refused to pay for anything and law enforcement was powerless to act? This film posits that given an inept police force and a careless and overly aggressive response, all hell would break loose.

“New Kids Turbo” is the type of comedy that just gleefully, repeatedly hammers a joke until it’s no longer funny, then brings it back in a way that’s funnier than ever. By transplanting action and horror cliches to a comedic setting, “New Kids Turbo” effectively satirizes the escapist entertainment its protagonists enjoy the most.

It’s not just over the top, it takes spy photographs of the top from its orbit in space. Animal lovers, gays, and people who cringe at the word “cunt” will all find reason to take offense here. But even they may find themselves laughing and having fun with the ridiculousness of the movie and its anarchic wit.

Not since “Beavis and Butthead” has stupidity been this smart.

George Hickman

George Hickman is the first child conceived and raised by a sentient television and an anthropomorphic video store. He is a true Texan, in the sense that it is true that he lives in Texas. He spends his days making the Internet work and his nights surviving on the sustenance that only flickering lights and moving pictures can bring. There were no survivors.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bram October 8, 2011 at 6:34 am

I got news for you George!

New Kids Nitro:


2 George Hickman October 9, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I saw that Bram! I can’t wait!


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