J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Doomsdays: the Slackers Will Inherit the Earth

If you really thought the world was ending, what would prevent you first acting like a first class jerkwad? Sure, you might say humanism, religious faith, good breeding, or maybe just basic human decency, but none of those apply to Dirty Fred and Bruho. They will live like parasites and call it activism in screenwriter-director Eddie Mullins’ defiantly grubby comedy Doomsdays (trailer here), which opens this Friday in the New York City area.

Of the two, Dirty Fred is the real self-aware, self-centered, selfish scoundrel. He loves to drink and hear himself talk. He does not really believe M. King Hubbert’s Malthusian “Peak Oil” theory, but it gives him a handy excuse for his aggressively irresponsible behavior. In contrast, Bruho is a sullen and potentially violent true believer. Their shtick is breaking into empty Catskills summer homes during the off-season, where they live large for as long as they can until someone runs them off. Dirty Fred immediately raids the liquor cabinets, whereas Bruho vents his rage on any unlucky automobiles that might be tucked away in the garages.

With twenty minute police responses times, Bruho and Dirty Fred can usually make a brazen getaway, even when they are totally caught flat-footed. They are experts at this sort of rarified squatting, but they will pass on the fruits of their experience as well as a degree of their lunacy to Jaidon, a misfit teenager they take under their wings. He is kind of a klutzy kid, but he buys into Peak Oil wholeheartedly. However, when Reyna, a nonconformist gallery assistant joins up with the merry band of loons, she starts to destabilize their equilibrium, because she is a woman (who happens to be relatively rational).

Doomsdays might sound like a nauseating exercise in hipsterdom, but it is actually quite funny because Mullins and his cast are keenly aware how annoying and pretentious his main characters truly are, especially Dirty Fred, whose snide attitude often boomerangs back on him. Frankly, he is such an unsavory reprobate, he almost becomes endearing. Beneath the rage and social ineptness Bruho might also be something of an old soul as well.

Arguably, as Bruho, Leo Fitzpatrick gives a rather extraordinary performance, maintaining his abrasive facade, while hinting at inner depths of screwed-up-ness. Likewise, Justin Rice’s Dirty Fred represents quite a feat of manic stamina and a refreshing disregard for audience good will. More than just a good sport, Laura Campbell effectively counter-balances their lunacy with her down-to-earth but vigorous screen presence.

Doomsdays often looks mumblecorish, but its dialogue is way too sharp for that indie stylistic ghetto. Mullins has drawn some strong characters and then run them through a gauntlet of physical comedy, while cleverly satirizing their Erlichian environmental doom-and-gloom. Recommended pretty enthusiastically for those who enjoy both high and low humor, Doomsdays opens this Friday (6/5) at the Cinemart Cinema in Queens and the Pavilion in Brooklyn.