The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
I wish there were a way to write a positive two-star review. Harmony Korine's "Mister Lonely" is an odd, desperate film, lost in its own audacity, and yet there are passages of surreal beauty and preposterous invention that I have to admire. The film doesn't work, and indeed seems to have no clear idea of what its job is, and yet (sigh) there is the temptation to forgive its trespasses simply because it is utterly, if pointlessly, original.
All of the characters except for a priest played by Werner Herzog and some nuns live as celebrity impersonators. We can accept this from the Michael Jackson clone (Diego Luna), and we can even understand why when, in Paris, he meets a Marilyn Monroe impersonator (Samantha Morton), they would want to have drink together in a sidewalk cafe. It's when she takes him home with her that the puzzlements begin.
She lives in a house with the pretensions of a castle, in the Highlands of Scotland. It is inhabited by an extended family of celebrity impersonators, and they portray, to get this part out of the way, Charlie Chaplin (Denis Lavant), the Pope (James Fox), the Queen (Anita Pallenberg), Shirley Temple (Esme Creed-Miles), Abraham Lincoln (Richard Strange), Buckwheat, Sammy Davis Jr. and of course the Three Stooges. Now consider. How much of a market is there in the remote Highlands for one, let alone a houseful, of celebrity impersonators? How many pounds and pence can the inhabitants of the small nearby village be expected to toss into their hats? How would it feel to walk down the high street and be greeted by such a receiving line? What are the living expenses?
But such are logical questions, and you can check credibility at the door. This family is not only extended but dysfunctional, starting with Marilyn and Charlie, who are a couple, although she says she thinks of Hitler when she looks at him, and he leaves her out in the sun to burn. Lincoln is foul-mouthed and critical of everyone, Buckwheat thinks of himself as foster parent of a chicken, and the Pope proposes a toast: They should all get drunk in honor of the deaths of their sheep.
Perhaps that's how they support themselves: raising sheep. However there seem scarcely two dozen sheep, which have go be destroyed after an outbreak of one of those diseases sheep are always being destroyed for. They're shot-gunned by the Three Stooges. Or maybe there are chickens around somewhere that we don't see. The chickens would probably be in the movie in homage to Werner Herzog, who famously hates chickens.
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