Mother Schmuckers is the first Belgian film to screen in the Midnight section at the Sundance Film Festival. While not a horror movie, it certainly fits in the category. The experimental and crude comedy is about two brothers who lose their mother’s dog, January Jack. She gives them 24 hours to find her precious pet or they will be kicked out of the home. Sounds easy enough. Right?
It does not take long to realize what kind of humor the movie is aiming for. It deals in the lowest common denominator while answering a question at the same time. Is humor universal? Mother Schmuckers begins with a scene that anyone watching will understand. Anyone will understand it is played for laughs. It also sets a frantic pace.
Mother Schmuckers also proves that humor is subjective. The movie is filled with eccentric encounters and over the top characters. There are laugh out loud moments throughout, but some will feel there is too much going on. This bare bones script which literally runs from one scene to the next does give a sketch comedy feel at times.
The camerawork is nothing short of inspired. Many films are derided for looking like a film school project. Mother Schmuckers definitely falls in the realm of the surreal. The difference is every camera trick it tries succeeds. There are disgusting close ups, found footage like moments, and even scenes that look like they are from a serious coming of age movie. The chaotic look adds to the minimal story is being told.
A film like Mother Schmuckers succeeds thanks to the charm of its main characters. That is glaringly absent here. The two brothers are mean spirited and unlikeable. They are funny (depending on your sense of humor), but they are impossible to like. Despite some of the film’s issues, the sheer audacity of it makes it a must see. The comedy will not be for everyone, and there will be plenty of moments that will turn some off. Those who do stick around will be treated to a darkly funny movie with a unique look that is almost impossible to describe in words.
Continue to check out AIPT for our ongoing coverage of the Sundance Film Festival. Tickets and a full lineup can be found here.
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