Hobo with a Shotgun (2011) – Directed by Jason Eisener – Starring Rutger Hauer, Brian Downey, Gregory Smith, and Molly Dunsworth.
Twenty-two minutes and 43 seconds.
That’s how long I made it into HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN before turning the movie off. Had it been a rental instead of a Netflix Instant Stream, I probably would have gutted more of the movie out, but HOBO is so awful and so cheeseball that I ended up feeling sorry for Rutger Hauer more than I became engaged with his character.
I like Rutger Hauer. I think he’s one of those actors that’s sort of fallen through the cracks over the years and doesn’t get the credit his resume deserves, and he brings what he can to HOBO, but the problem with the film (at least through 22 minutes) is that his quiet, frustrated demeanor is completely eviscerated by grossly exaggerated bad guys, who are so over the top and terrible that every second the Drake and his two dickb*g sons are on screen I just want them to disappear.
Born from the Grindhouse trailers made for Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s double feature, HOBO is trying to be a throwback to an earlier time; unfortunately, because it’s a throwback to a less-than-classic genre, director Jason Eisener and the rest of the production staff think it’s okay to stuff the film with horrible actors giving horrible performances. Note to filmmakers: just because you want to pay homage to B-movies, doesn’t mean it’s okay to make a B-movie of a B-movie, because then you get a D-movie.
I had some issues with Rodriguez’s Machete, but ultimately I found it disappointing but enjoyable. HOBO wasn’t enjoyable, and so I stopped watching it.
I’m not a professional critic, of course, so I can do things like say, “F*ck this piece of crap,” and stop watching a bad movie. It would probably be better for anyone looking for a real review of the movie if I just didn’t write this little blurb since I’m only reviewing the first 22 minutes, but those 22 minutes does give me something to talk about. I’ve watched and stopped plenty of other movies since I started this blog and not talked about it, but Princess of Mars didn’t really leave me with a lot to talk about. It’s a terrible movie with terrible effects and terrible acting and I watched maybe 15 or 20 minutes of it before realizing I couldn’t make it to the end. But I kinda knew it was going to be a terrible movie going in (it’s an Asylum film that stars Antonio Sabato, Jr. and Traci Lords) and when the movie met those expectations … it didn’t really inspire me to sit down and yap about it.
HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, however, has been generating some positive buzz, and since I like Hauer and since I like the idea of the movie, I watched it almost immediately after Netflix added it to their Instant Watch section. Seriously, it was down to this or Tangled, and I chose this. If I can’t make it through 22 minutes and 43 seconds of Tangled I’ll buy the internet a Cherry Coke Zero (which you cannot get in 2-liter bottles in Reno, because Reno hates me).
The film opens with the Hobo on a train, which deposits him in Hope Town. Someone has painted, “SCUM” over “Hope,” but our intrepid Hobo doesn’t pay attention to graffiti, and enters the town anyway, pushing a cart and collecting garbage.
We quickly meet the villains of the piece, The Drake (Brian Downey) and his two sons Ivan (Nick Bateman) and Slick (Gregory Smith). They’re all sadistic, which you know because every time they do something, they cackle about it. They don’t just cackle when they behead the Drake’s brother, they cackle when they do anything. These clowns run the town from a crummy night club/arcade, and the police chief is in their pocket.
You know this because the police chief cackles when he does anything bad, too.
We meet a hooker who’s not buying Slick’s bullying of a kid playing video games (which makes total sense – you owe money to the sadistic assh*le who runs the town, so you go play video games where he’s going to be), but then wants to screw him in the back alley, anyway. So Slick decides to kill her and the Hobo saves her, knocks out Slick, and takes him to the police station, where the chief’s allegiance to the Drake is revealed. The Hobo gets the word “SCUM” carved into his chest before being tossed in the garbage. He stumbles off, runs into the hooker and asks for help, she takes him back to her apartment …
And I decided to do something else.
The problem with HOBO is that it treats the world as an exaggerated mess, but then tries to impart some heaviness to him by having him be this honorable, solemn guy. It doesn’t work. The villains are so bad and the concept of “Scum Town” is so poorly rendered that it screams, “HEY, WE’RE MAKING A STUPID MOVIE HERE!” Even though I had problems with Machete, it always felt like there was a real problem at the center of the film; that’s what HOBO lacks, as it takes the conflict and makes it so completely ridiculous without making it fun.