If I hadn’t looked the director’s filmography, with titles like “Amityville Uprising” and the biker-chick thriller “Nation’s Fire,” I’d have leapt to some pretty seriously misguided conclusions about “The Godfather Buck,” a rich brothers hunting and bonding and sharing drama shot at Big Bear Lake, California.
It plays, sounds and feels like a movie whose research consisted of forcing oneself to listen to Joe Rogan’s performative masculinity hustle podcast while on vacation at Fire Island. Because writing this at home in West Hollywood, Silver Lake or anywhere in San Francisco wasn’t practical.
It’s that “off.” I could have sworn it was a gay fantasia of what toxic masculinity sounds like. Tough, profane and sexually explicit conversations clumsily mix with straw man arguments about hunting, pro and con, white supremacy and male domination.
Brother lawyers — one “sensitive” and “in therapy,” the other an over-compensating “alpha male” — have blunt discussions about women and their “Chinese sized brains,” about cheating “because I can,” about their penises and sexual secrets and the “primal” nature of hunting, all while stalking the titular “Godfather Buck” at the hotel-sized hunting lodge their daddy left them.
“I’m a wolf,” the butch Dan (Frederick Keeve) declares. “I follow the scent…I’m a NEANDERTHAL. I compete and I win.”
Somebody tell Dan, and the screenwriter who concocted him (Keeve) why there’re no Neanderthals left, and use the word “competition” in your explanation.
Steven? “Sometimes I’d rather be hurt than hurt other people” isn’t going to get you that buck, is it?
This Thomas J. Churchill movie — 15 minutes in the woods, one hour and 50 minutes of sitting drinking and chatting — takes in in a third (Black) half-sibling (Indar Smith) as our brothers plow through a Wikipedia search of “men’s movement” gibberish, “Hindu philosophy,” therapy-bashing, misogyny and homophobia.
And it’s all performed — including a sing-along SONG Keeve wrote for the film — in touchy feeling confessional chats that can only be described as, well, homoerotic.
It’s a stunningly dull movie. I can’t decide if I’m more irritated, or merely confused.
And just guessing, I’m thinking the filmmakers are as well. Very…confused.
Rating: unrated, gunplay, profanity
Cast: Frederick Keeve, Kyle Lowder, Indar Smith
Credits: Directed by Thomas J. Churchill, scripted by Frederick Keeve. A Gravitas release.
Running time: 2:05