Monster Man (2003) / Horror-Comedy
MPAA Rated: R for pervasive gore, violence, crude humor, language, and sexuality
Running Time: 95 min.
Cast: Eric Jungmann, Justin Urich, Aimee Brooks, Michael Bailey Smith, Joe Goodrich
Director: Michael Davis
Screenplay: Michael Davis
Call this Orange County meets Joy Ride meets Jeepers Creepers for the gory horror loving crowd, as his low budget schlock aims at one specific target audience and nothing more. Basically, if you love lowbrow toilet humor mixed with high amounts of gore, this one may be right up your alley, as Monster Man consistently delivers all of the dumbest humor and barf-inducing moments of grotesqueness you could ever ask for in a mere 95 minutes. Watch a fat guy ingest poop, and later, watch the same guy simulate cunnilingus on road kill. Those are the highlights of this film that aims as low as possible for cheap thrills, strictly for audiences that also find perverse pleasure in farting on their hands and sniffing it to their hearts content.
Eric Jungmann (Not Another Teen Movie, Winning London) stars as Adam, virginal and nerdy, who is taking a road trip with his obnoxious best pal Harley (Urich, Winter Break) to tell the object of his desires that he loves her before she gets married to another man. While on the way there, they manage to completely piss off the mysterious owner of a monster truck, who seems tenacious in his pursuit of them. Meanwhile, they also happen to pick up a hot-babe hitchhiker (Brooks, Critters 3), and she seems to take a liking to Adam's sincerity and geeky demeanor.
I could give Monster Man credit for putting a new spin on the road movie, but I sense that most of the ideas that culminated in the making of this film stem from many other sources. Writer-director Michael Davis (100 Girls, Eight Days a Week) had the chance to poke fun at the gross-out gags that generally permeate teen and college age comedies, but it seems that Davis would rather embrace them instead. That's not exactly a reason to fault him, since Davis is entitled to make any kind of movie he wants, but Monster Man comes off more as derivative of many other films, rather than inspired by them. Davis' direction definitely needs improvement, as the ridiculous amounts of close-ups make the film seem far more claustrophobic than any outdoor adventure should ever need to be.
Jungmann plays the same nerdy protagonist that you generally see in these sorts of movies, nebbish and insecure, and you know by the end of the film, he's going to finally grow some cojones. Justin Urich looks and acts like Jack Black, and in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't make him watch Jack Black's movies in order him to perfectly copy the entire manic madman shtick he is known for. The thought may occur to you that these are two guys that couldn't possibly be best friends in real-life, as they seem to hate everything about each other, and worse, they also have competing interests. If you suffer from low self-worth, why invite your insulting friend along before making one of the most difficult decisions of your life, especially when all he seems capable of doing is trashing the woman of your desires, along with yourself in the process?
Of course, without Urich, there would be little in the way of comic relief, and if there's anything that makes Monster Man almost tolerable, it's the fact that you aren't supposed to take any of it seriously. Still, even taking it as an irreverent romp through two popular genres among teens, these are paltry goods to serve up. If Davis could have worked much more on developing his plot and story, and far less on just trying to make us laugh or gag, we would probably have laughed or gagged far more, since there would have been more vested interest in the movie as a whole.
Monster Man may provide some good chuckles for people that regularly make b-movie horror flicks and scatological comedies part of their movie-watching diet, but this gruesome concoction will most likely be deemed unpalatable to more discerning viewers.
©2005 Vince Leo