Vulgar review by Matt Fuerst


Most films that open to poor reviews decide to go "undercover". They're either cut up in a review filled with spite, managing to piece together a somewhat positive phrase, or they just decide to forgo the critical praise route altogether. It's a very rare flick that revels in it's own filth; the hate reviews that it manages to tally up. When I see a flick like that I gravitate towards it. Were the filmmakers purposefully making a bad flick? Do they love the punishment? Vulgar is such a film. Filmmaker Bryan Johnson seems well aware that what he is attempting won't sit well with most anyone, but he did it anyways.

            vulgar: Deficient in taste, delicacy, or refinement.

Brian O'Halloran, known in perpituity as That Whiny Guy from Clerks stars in Vulgar as Will Carlson, a man thus far unscucessful in his life. Will decides to take the road less traveled, shuns the common 9 to 5 job to persue his dream of being a clown. Not surprisingly, being a clown in a poor district of New Jersey isn't the most successful vocation, Will can't make ends meet. Will has had a tough life, his mother despises him and his father died when Will was young. Will's neighbors seem to hate him and take advantage of him at the same time. In spite of the odds mounting against him, Will tries to keep his head up and struggles, hoping some day his break will come.

Will feels his day has arrived when perusing the Adult Personal ads, he has an epiphany. He will become the worlds first "Naughty" bachelor party clown. Instead of the traditional clown getup, he will dress up in fishnets and heels and crash bachelor parties as a joke for the groom to be. He does his 20 minute routine before the real entertainment arrives, and makes a full days pay for a little bit of work. Will finally gets the call for his first party, which turns out much different than expected. Will, now posing as Vulgar the Clown gets abducted by a highly disturbed family father and sons Ed, Frankie and Gino Fanelli. The men all torture and abuse Vulgar in every brutal was imaginable. Vulgar, Will, finds himself hoping for death but the men keep him alive to continue their perversion. In the morning, Will finds himself alive and alone. He returns home and tries to recover but knows he'll never really be the same.

Shortly afterwards, Will is understandably depressed but continues on with his life since he knows no differently. Will manages to find himself in the national spotlight after saving a little girls life. Fame ensues and he is offered a national television show. Will has managed to survive a moment darker than many experience, but feels like karma may in fact be paying it's debts. Of course, Will's happiness cannot last for long. The Fanelli family wants to cash in Will's success. After a payoff, the Fanelli's demand more; they want another torture session with Vulgar, or else their video of the previous session will make it's way to the public eye.

Vulgar does a lot of things really well. The scenes with Vulgar being tortured are shot surprisingly well. You will be tensed and upset by them, that I can personally attest to. The problem is, in spite of their compotence, it's not the type of material a lot of people will watch enjoyably, it's just too intense for most. A lot of Vulgar can be broken into two categories: depressing or more depressing. Will's home life is miserable. He is assaulted by his neighbors regularly and his car is strewn with graffiti. Will's professional life is marred in failure. Gigs consistently fall through, and he is disrespected by his own clients. Even the times of joy in Vulgar are brief puncuation marks, simply signaling a new low is about to occur to Will/Vulgar.

O'Halloran isn't going to shake his Dante past with Vulgar, but he does show a good range here. He's required to play a pretty wide range of emotions: confused, hurt, scared, and cautiously excited. He does a good job pulling off the happy clown gig. Vulgar was produced by the View Askiew crew, so the usual group of Askiew kids appear in it. Kevin Smith checks in as a network executive and Smokin' Weed Jay plays a drug addict gun dealer (a stretch). You'll notice many of the other members of the cast as well.

Vulgar was shot as a low budget film and it's roots show. The picture quality is pretty grainy and harsh. Even with a large budget many of the scenes would be shot in a grainy style anyways, especially when the Fanelli's have Vulgar captured. However, there are other times when the tiny budget is painful. On Flappy's (supposedly) nationally syndicated television show the level of props are paper cutouts. The backdrop is a sheet of paper with the Flappy hand written on marker; pretty film school looking stuff. Again, I feel the need to commend Director Johnson for a great job in the torture sequences of the movie, very effectively done. The problem is that most people just aren't going to sit through that...

4 out of 10 Jackasses
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