I never liked those videos where ordinary people embarrass themselves or get hurt on camera. Call me overly sensitive, but as much as I like my humor, I could never shake the idea that there was a person on the other end of this who wasn’t too amused. Even worse, that there was someone who would now be humiliated as thousands or possibly millions of people watched them in their most humbling moments. I mean, what was life for the Star Wars Kid like after those videos of him dancing with the light saber went viral? For those who say that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, believe me when I say you’ve never been the recipient of bad publicity.
The title character in the awkwardly-titled 3, 2, 1… FRANKIE GO BOOM has dealt with this his whole life. As children, Frankie’s older brother Bruce would film him falling into traps and getting injured. The behavior continued throughout his childhood. The trend culminated in Frankie’s wedding, in which he found out his fiance was unfaithful. Bruce uploaded the film on the internet and since then, millions of people just know they’ve seen Frankie somewhere before.
As the film opens, Frankie (Charlie Hunnam – GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS, SONS OF ANARCHY) is now living in a trailer in the middle of Death Valley. He fancies himself a writer, typing up elaborate, unpublished manuscripts about revenge. Despite a self-written note warning him to stay away from his family, he agrees to come home as his estranged brother Bruce (Chris O’Dowd – THE IT CROWD) graduates from rehab. It turns out that Bruce hasn’t changed. While he has kicked the drugs and alcohol, he is still a selfish person who doesn’t understand how he has ruined his brother’s life. Worse still, Bruce is encouraged by his mother (Nora Dunn), his agent (Whitney Cummings) and a new person he met while getting sober. Jack (Chris Noth – LAW & ORDER, SEX AND THE CITY) is a washed-up movie star whose erratic behavior has cost him dearly. Think Tom Sizemore or Mickey Rourke at their lowest moments. But with Bruce, he’s destined to make a comeback.
Frankie meets Lassie (Lizzy Caplan – MEAN GIRLS, CLOVERFIELD) after she discovers her fiance cheating on her with the poolboy. The two talk and attempt to have sex but it doesn’t quite work out right away. Still, Frankie likes Lassie and wants to see her again. Unfortunately, Bruce filmed Frankie and Lassie without their knowledge and he hopes to turn the video of his brother’s temporary impotence into a sensation. After some pressing, he convinces Bruce to help him get the video back, especially when Bruce discovers that Lassie is Jack’s daughter.
That’s really just the tip of the iceberg in this film. It’s one of those farcical chases as Frankie and Bruce try to make sure the video is seen by as few people as possible while keeping Lassie and Jack in the dark. Director Jordan Roberts (AROUND THE BEND) keeps things moving at a brisk pace as countless obstacles are thrown in Bruce and Frankie’s way.
And let’s be honest, Bruce is a real shit. In many ways, he acts like a classic addict. He only thinks of himself, constantly shifts blame and makes excuses and believes everyone is there for his advantage. Frankie is quite right saying that Bruce is not a director, he’s just someone who films other people’s misery without their knowledge. In this part, O’Dowd tries to make him a little sympathetic, but he can only do so much. Especially towards the beginning of the film, he is such a jerk that you keep hoping something horrible will happen to him – not exactly the response they were going for. Even worse is Whitney Cummings as Bruce’s lover/manager. I’m not the biggest fan of Cummings to begin with, but here she is just unbearable to watch. Her tone of humor is completely at odds with the rest of the film as she goes either for awkward comedy or flat-out anger and rage. She is the female Jonah Hill, and I hate Jonah Hill.
But as annoying as these characters sometimes were, I cannot deny that I laughed at 3, 2, 1… FRANKIE GO BOOM. In fact, I laughed a lot.
Roberts has for the most part assembled an amazing cast for this production. Hunnam is in good form as our sympathetic hero. Caplan is simply magical and reminds us why she was everyone’s favorite person in MEAN GIRLS. Chris Noth seems to be having the most fun. He always had to be a little reserved on his most famous roles, but here he lets loose to create an appropriately scenery chewing basket case of a human being that’s always fun to watch. It should be noted that Ron Perlman also has a supporting role. Not the sidekick role he’s been thrown into too much lately, this is easily one of the funniest performances of Perlman’s career. Absolutely hysterical and unforgettable.
3, 2, 1… FRANKIE GO BOOM may fall into some of the trickiest traps of the domestic comedy. But it is also a deliriously funny film that will delight those willing to seek it out. ★★★ (out of ★★★★).
– Not rated, but contains strong language, some sexual content, drug use and nudity. So yeah, this would be an R.
– Running Time: 1hr 29mins.