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Leaving the Multiplex Behind

Movie Review: POOLBOY: DROWNING OUT THE FURY (2012)

Posted by Jonathan Sullivan on February 26, 2012

Rated R for crude and sexual content throughout, graphic nudity, pervasive language, violence and drug use.

Starring: Kevin Sorbo, Danny Trejo, Ross Patterson, Bryan Callen

Written by: Ross Patterson

Directed by: Garrett Brawith

Distributed by: Screen Media Films

Watch Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury on Netflix

Buy Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury on DVD

Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury is both far better and far worse than you think it is.

Somewhere in the middle of Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury, a parody/mockumentary hybrid from director Garrett Brawith, there’s a quick cut to a man impersonating Adolf Hitler playing a sexy jazz solo on the saxophone. Out of context that makes no sense, but in context…it makes even less sense. Although the movie had already won me over by the time this scene rolled around, it was then that I knew one thing was for certain: that I would be defending Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury to my movie geek friends (and blogger colleagues) for the rest of my human existence. And defend I will. With pleasure.

So what is Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury exactly? Well it’s two movies in one; first of all, it’s a parody on the cheesy action movies of the late 80’s-early 90’s about a Vietnam vet named Sal Brando (Kevin Sorbo) who returns home to find that Mexicans have monopolized the business of pool cleaning. After his wife and son are murdered by his wife’s Latin lover (Bryan Callen), Sal decides to get revenge on all the Mexican pool cleaners in the city Van Nuys, California the only way he knows how: VIGILANTE JUSTICE. Armed with a modified pool cleaner net, his crusade leads him right to the top of the Mexican pool cleaner ring, a man named Caesar (Danny Trejo) and his mysterious shadowy boss with ties to Sal’s past.

Weird? Yes. Ridiculous? Yes. Insanely, insanely racist? Yes and yes. And if it stopped right there, I would be right with you. But in addition to that plot, Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury is also a mockumentary about the making of said movie, hosted by one eyed director Saint James St. James (Ross Patterson, who also wrote the script). Turns out he directed that movie when he was 10 years old and the studio banned its planned 1990 release…UNTIL NOW. So while we watch Sal Brando’s pool boy crusade, we are also treated to outtakes, behind the scenes moments, and even interviews with members of the cast and crew years later.

And you know what?  Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury ends up working more often than not. Its movie within a movie is a send up of the straight to video movies from that era, right down to its terrible special effects, inane plot, and poor line delivery. So yes it’s bad on purpose, but it also features some legitimately funny and even clever moments. Sorbo, a man my friends and I like so much we named a song after him for our high school rock band, both breaks out of and parodies that generic “action hero” role he’s been forced into since first hitting it big many years ago in the syndicated Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. His comedic timing is a bit hit or miss, but he shows more personality here than he has in anything else I’ve ever seen him in. More this, less Walking Tall sequels please.

Joining Sorbo in Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury are possibly the most random assortment of actors put together this side of Southland Tales. And I’m talking full on strange; people like Richard KarnMark CurryAhmed BestJason Mewes, and Paul Ben-Victor show up seemingly out of nowhere in extended cameos for reasons I can’t quite comprehend. But they’re all decent in it, and provide a good number of laughs, especially Karn whose one scene features him shooting a Mexican valet to death with two shotguns (one in each hand). I can now cross “see Al Borland kill the shit out of somebody” off my bucket list. Also I can’t believe that was actually on my bucket list.

Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury isn’t entirely clever in its humor, but I can’t deny that there were moments where my laughter drowned out what was happening on screen (perfect example: the running joke of a fat guy dressed as a Geisha laughing like an innocent Asian stereotype, a joke that I could not get enough of). There are tons of crazy one-liners and one-off bits that will take you by surprise in that good “shit, now I can’t breathe because I’m laughing” way.

But while it’s certainly funny, Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury also has a lot of jokes that miss the mark completely and crash and burn pretty badly. The character of Saint James St. James himself is also hit or miss; he’s got some funny lines and moments (including all the times he edited himself into his movie in post-production) but he also comes off insanely annoying and unfunny immediately after killing the momentum he had going. Also some of the “mistakes” in the movie are more lame than funny (the dubbing of certain actors as a running joke got old quick), and the running joke of Sal carrying around his dead friend’s arm in the “movie within a movie” was pushed far beyond its shelf life (but it is actually funny in the beginning). And even though the terrible racism/unfunny Mexican jokes were there because that was the point of the movie (it “wasn’t released in 1990” because the studio found it so racist and terrible), that begins to wear out its welcome too and never was really funny to begin with. More uncomfortable than anything else, really, and sort of a lazy way to approach humor.

Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury is a frustrating movie to watch. It’s funny and even clever at times, and it’s definitely entertaining, but there is enough bad going on at the same time that trying to recommend it to your movie friends or attempting to defend it feels almost like an uphill battle. Hell there’s a good chance you’ll even hate this, and then want to punch me in the face for saying anything nice about it at all. That’s fine, comedy is subjective. But I say at least give it a chance and stick with it; Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury may surprise you. At the very least, you get to see Hitler play sexy jazz sax and that’s pretty much worth the watch alone.

Grade: C+

 

Watch Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury on Netflix

Buy Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury on DVD

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