2008 | Director: Jared Drake | Writer: Brandon Drake
What do you get when you combine the pseudo-surrealism and manic-depressive existential breakdown found in movies commonly attributed to the writer Charlie Kaufman with the Kafkaesque distopia of, say, Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil?” You get “Visioneers,” which at times feels like a feature length sketch from the TV show “Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job!”. To be clear, most of this stuff is cool. Unfortunately in Visioneers it becomes tedious, self indulgent and overly contrived. Instead of sticking to quirky, eye-rolling humor that makes up the bread and butter of these Hipster Comedies, this alternate-reality tale has the smugness factor a little too high.
Zack Galifianakis (“Gravy Robbers,” “The Hangover”) plays George Washington blah blah (you get his whole name many times because I guess it’s funny…meh) a member of the upper/middle class corporate consumer culture that this film is satirizing (I guess that’s it). He has a job where he does the whole sit-in-a-room thing with quiet desperation, examining forms and the like. He pushes papers for the Jeffers Corporation, which, you quickly learn, has gained pretty much total control over the non-rural or developed areas of the United States. As is often the case in these HipComs, George has a vacant wife played by Judy Greer (Fatty Mcgoo, “13 going on 30”) and lives a life of great material wealth (ranch house, boat, mini-van, etc). Also, in keeping with the HipCom formula, George has one true source of happiness in his life in the form of a coworker he only talks to on the phone. Her name is Charisma (yeah, okay…yeah), played by Mia Maestro (“Alias”, “Poseidon”), and quite frankly she might be one of the most beautiful women alive. That aside, she is eventually fired for being unproductive and so eventually (lots of eventually in this movie; like I said, it’s tedious) George goes off and finds her working at a diner in the undeveloped area. Will romance ensue? Not if this is the real world, which it’s not.
There is some other stuff with his brother returning from a midlife crisis and taking up pole-vaulting while inadvertently creating a hippie following that he hates. And a life coach and some stuff about how dreams are dangerous, simply because in this alternate reality people will explode. Literally, they explode from being too disappointed by their lives and overcome with stress and anxiety about not being able to do something about it or something. Some of these scenes of character interaction are good and even the hokey premise of exploding people could be fun, but the execution of this movie is lacking; it feels too heavy handed with the satire and at the same time too in love with its own quirkiness, only to give it all up for an ending that is incredulous (even for this movie) and far less penetrating and deep than it should have been–if this is satire.
I like this kind of thing sometimes. I liked some parts of this movie and found that Galifianakis was pretty good, though he did not have to display much more range than that of a morose mother-fellow. It was just too loose and too clever and too sardonic to match the quality of the final product, or the meandering story, which lead to an ineffective ending, which killed the potency of the satire.
Rating: Two and a Half of Five Stars