Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Live Freaky! Die Freaky! (2006)

Anyone who reads this site with any regularity knows that I have no problem with shock humor or films that deal with "shocking" material. Hell, I love the stuff and actively seek it out. Films like this, though, make me wonder why I bother. The premise is certainly bizarre enough to warrant attention -- it's a stop-motion/puppet retelling of the Charles Manson story with voice acting by punk-rock musicians. That last fact, though, points up from where this film comes; by using punk rock figures as a selling point, the film pigeonholes itself into a particular audience. The kind of people who would be attracted to this film due to the voice cast are not the kind of people you're going to be offending, making this film's bluster about naughty material moot. It's more than that, too -- this film touches on some dark material in its attempts to push boundaries. It does so, however, in the interest of snide nihilism. Genuine transgression involves a philosophy and a point of view; this film, then, can be said to only traffic in aimless crudity. It's all well and good to turn Sharon Tate and her friends into rude bourgeoisie perverts whilst elevating Manson to (inadvertent) Messiah. But in doing so, what is the film trying to say? It can't be in an attempt to offend for reasons already stated, despite the film's disingenuous "extreme content" warnings. The true purpose, then, must be to amuse the presumably-jaded target audience. The question then becomes not, "Was I shocked?" but, "Was I amused?" Alas, I was not amused. Despite some early promise (there's a scene of puppet sex that picks up the gauntlet thrown by Team America and tears it to pieces), writer/director Joen Roecker's idea of humor is stultifyingly lame, like Lloyd Kaufman without the lacerating self-mockery. The music is good, and Billie Joe Armstrong's vocal rendition of Manson is nothing if not spirited. But really, this is so lame. Is this what passes for punk these days? No wonder the genre's suffering.

Grade: C-


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