It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Rick is a vicious SOB and a bully. He ridicules those weaker than he is, and rolls on the floor to please his boss. In other words, he's in middle management. Bill Pullman brings the character to full bloom in "Rick," a movie that paints a corporate world of lust, hypocrisy, racism and cruelty. No mention is made of the product or service produced by the corporation where Rick works, perhaps because the product is beside the point: This corporate culture works to produce itself.
The movie goes beyond dark comedy into dank comedy. Rick and his boss, Duke (Aaron Sanford), are creatures without redeeming merit, and Rick's old buddy Buck (Dylan Baker) is a killer for hire. His daughter is a regular in an X-rated chat room. Perhaps it is not astonishing that the screenplay is by Daniel Handler, who writes the "Lemony Snicket" books, the first of which warns its young readers: "These books are among the most miserable in the world."
With "Lemony Snicket" he's kidding, I think. With "Rick," we have misanthropy run riot. I don't know if it works, but it's not boring, and there is a kind of terrible thrill in seeing an essentially nice guy like Bill Pullman play a character who is hateful beyond all measure. The story line is lifted from Verdi's "Rigoletto," but if you could not sit down right now and compose 200 words summarizing the plot of that opera, it matters little; the movie has a life of its own.
The tone is set in a remarkable early scene in which Rick (Pullman) bounds into the office of Duke, who is half his age, and debases himself in a paroxysm of male bonding behavior. They curse, they drink, they smoke cigars, they pound each other to show what great guys they are, and Rick at one point actually crawls on the floor and seems likely to hump Duke's leg. They go out for a drink in a curious club supplied with video monitors so the customers can spy on each other, and then Duke excuses himself to go back to the office, where he can't wait to log on as BIGBOSS in that X-rated Web chat room.