- Directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion
- Written by Nick Morris, Ruckus Skye and Lane Skye
- Starring Lulu Wilson, Joel McHale and Kevin James
- Classification R; 100 minutes
While most members of Adam Sandler’s posse continue to ply the same old shtick to increasingly lazy effect – hello and goodbye to David “The Wrong Missy" Spade – one-time Happy Madison utility player Kevin James has done something Sandler himself does every five years: commit himself to subverting expectations.
In Becky, a tremendous piece of cinematic viciousness, James doesn’t play the dopey shlub or the put-upon husband or anything resembling the durrr-durrr-dumb-dumb comedy on display in Sandler’s Grown Ups, Pixels, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, etc. Instead, James embraces the pure, cold-blooded villain here, playing a vicious escaped con who terrorizes an inventive 13-year-old girl (Lulu Wilson) in the woods of Ontario. (How do we know this film takes place in Canada? Well, a caribou-embossed quarter makes a prominent appearance halfway through – a nice change for locally shot productions that typically substitute greenbacks for our domestic currency.)
Sporting a swastika tattoo on his head and a beard so thick it could smother a lesser man to death, James is terrifyingly convincing as a murderous maniac, completely erasing any memories you might have of the erstwhile King of Queens. Skulking around a secluded cabin and quietly, intensely delivering orders to henchmen twice his size, James delivers a delightfully vile performance.
Enjoyably vulgar, too, is the co-direction by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, who have messed around with genre outrageousness before in the half-baked Cooties, but here achieve the platonic ideal of a sleazy thriller. Becky is economical, tightly wound and entirely conscious of its sick, violent soul (points, or demerits as the case may be, to anyone who spots the homage to I Spit on Your Grave). At no point does the film pretend to be anything other than a nasty little piece of immoral mayhem – and when such ambitions match execution, well, that’s a beautifully disgusting thing.
With its gore and brutality and general nihilistic sensibility – not to mention an eyeball scene that would make Bunuel blush – Becky is not fit for 95 per cent of the populace, especially those who might innocently click on the title after recognizing the star of their favourite CBS sitcom. But for those who like to get dirty with this kind of scuzzy chaos, then this is near-perfect slimeball cinema – a welcome kick to the head that should also reinvent James’s career. See you in Hell, Paul Blart.
Becky is available digitally on-demand starting June 5.
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