It is true what they say, two wrongs don’t make a right. It only takes one – John De Hart.
What kind of man is De Hart? His first internet search was, “members only jacket swap-meets in Henderson County.” When Dogpile came back empty-handed, after double-checking his solitude, he followed with, “what food makes the best tasting burps?” Always good for a few candy bars when the Little League kids do their fundraiser. He “straightens up” the garage. Pees wide leg stance, staring straight ahead; prides himself on never hitting the seat. His work stories fill you up past the brim, go for so long, by the time you break off (fourth attempt) his breakdown of “due by due west” and which way the parking stalls should be facing, you have to walk away verbalizing your disbelief as if it’s the only way to relieve the pressure of all the words that have been force-poured into your head.
He’s a man that can look himself in the mirror. There he sees the raw, thousand-faceted diamond the world has chance robbed itself of. A master sensei spin kicking across the sunset’s auburn glow. A soft spoken enchanter of ever slippery femininity. A man of the people whose chides and quips are the perfect garnish to every dish: a light chuckle butterflys around the room to the hearty syncopation of the chef’s guffaws, the waiter bows in admiration. A self-contained artist blushing refusal among the barroom usuals thirsting for revelation, for his vital melodies. Yes, there in the mirror reflecting the twin infinities of his rodent gaze he sees a man that gets things done and doesn’t take shortcuts.
There certainly aren’t any shortcuts on the Road to Revenge, plenty of one way streets and dog legged cul-de-sacs though. Forty minutes in, the title screen is still your best compass of an overarching plot. De Hart duck-duck-ducks off about six lefts before he gooses us with the titular right of revenge. But what a rich tapestry he weaves on his pegged loom: leather pants so tight you get shots of warped cod piece and a waft of blatant nut crack.
Don’t get the wrong idea with all this johnson talk, the movie has not liberated its gender roles. Men make the world go round while women are sex objects and victims. And yet hilariously, Road to Revenge passes the Bechdel test (now if that doesn’t silence strict Bechdel pedants, nothing will). Don’t worry about digesting these broader issues, De Hart ladles them, and just about everything else, with his patented atonal quiverings to help the medicine go down.
In an effort to spoil as little as possible I’ve probably given the appearance that De Hart is the only attraction. Far from it. Your villain is a dirty cop turned dirty judge, drug lord, satanist and petty liar, named Normad. I repeat, named Normad! Is that not enough?
Let me ask you something very important (sic) is it half full or is it half empty?… No, no, it’s water.
Trumping that by orders of magnitude is De Hart’s best bud Huck Finney, a dysfunctional ex co-worker whose life is in free fall. Wings Hauser (whom discerning indie fans might recognize as the wheelchair bound man in Rubber) gives an inspired performance considering the material. Tasked with bringing to life a recently divorced ex cop with an angry streak, who sees the light after drinking bleach, and reforms his life with the story of his namesake Huckleberry Finn, Hauser brings an uncomfortable level of believe-ability. Any level of method acting used on Huck Finney is worrisome to say the least. I certainly hope he did it by choice. If not, give me a call, Wings. De Hart is in violation of OSHA regulation Subpart E – Means of Egress under 1910.35 – Compliance with alternate exit route codes. Add to this De Hart’s non compliance of Subpart N – Materials Handling and Storage 1910.184 – Slings (see scope Whether t’wood be nobler), and we’ve got a slam dunk case.
I think I’ve proven I’m just the man to defend you against the real Normad. Revenge is sweet but a punitive track suit is sweeter, and we’re gonna milk him for all he’s worth, Wings! Give me a call either way because I want to schedule the ceremony for your Lifetime Achievement Award. I was going to give you Best Supporting Actor in a B Movie but what would that mean? You had better semiotics than Angelika Jager’s Valaria? A wider range than the football from The Room? You outshined Bloodsport‘s maroon man panties snapping to Van Damme’s plump little boom-boom? Granted the latter is pretty impressive, but what wouldn’t look good on that pert schpenukhus?* The point is, Wings, you have no true peers. Lifetime Achievement. Mission accomplished.
Yes, mission accomplished, except we still haven’t gotten any revenge and we’re running out of time. Let’s zoom into De Hart’s 10th grade mind.
– – –
A cardigan symmetry sits knowing 90 minutes is the perfect film like the Great Gatsby is the book. “Jonathan, you’re next.” Mr. Gardner dandies through this junior English class stroking his beard, as drunk on himself as a plum. De Hart stands shuffling ratty loose leaf. Exactly three pages, by assignment, to show Heather the wit and imagination; show her full force what has been held to stutters in the presence of her tight sweaters and the curve of her… her, her butt. Some cretin like Zach says ‘ass‘ in his mind. So below her. Now it’s his time.
His eyes widen, attempting to express the vastness, you can’t imagine! And he begins, muscle tense, narrating, singing his song as if by gunpoint. Heather pops a gum bubble. She’s looking at me! A wad of paper arcs the classroom. Gardner, pacing, gives a cuff upside the head. These shits aren’t worthy of Fitzgerald.
The real problem is John was so proud of all his set pieces that he couldn’t drop a word, not even the random ones about his poodle. Now he’s two and a half pages in and he’s got to bring his message home, to, to that heart nestled like a bird under those two tight, fuzzy… no no no!
He spaces out his words in emphasis. Happily… Ever… After… and returns to his desk. Soaring. No! Like a lion. Languid, proud, power proven.
It made no sense. He was a very serious, energetic lion, underfed apparently, drowning in those god damn khakis that zip into shorts, paws shodden with Airwalks. But proud nonetheless, walking past Heather without a single flutter. Ever hopeful.
– – –
Many stories pivot on the indomitable will, uplifting us with a man’s obstinate dream. And I don’t think it gets any more bull-headed than John De Hart waning nostalgic over his poached potential. So move over Shawshank Redemption, The road to Revenge is the most life-affirming statement of our time.
*Yiddish word for an attractively contoured male rectal carriage. Derived from shtup and tukhus.