Postal (2007)

Click here for all the Fantasia news & reviews!Postal reviewStarring Zach Ward, Dave Foley, Chris Coppola, Michael Benyaer, Verne Troyer

Directed by Uwe Boll

The screening I saw of Postal this weekend was preceded by a trailer for a documentary about director Uwe Boll called The Manouevre in Vancouver, directed by Stuart “Feedback” Andrews of Rue Morgue. Last year, Boll got directly in touch with critics who wrote bad things about his films (many which are based on video games, I personally have seen none of them), and an event was staged where Boll, a former pro boxer, took the critics to task in the ring.

This is a very funny idea, genius even. Talk about turning bad press into a truly hilarious publicity stunt. However, Boll can punch his critics in the face as hard as he wants – it ain’t going to change the fact that some of them just aren’t going to find Postal to be very good.

Now, let’s address this Uwe Boll phenomenon, since his character and perseverance are part and parcel with his films, at least at this stage of his career. He’s taken the reigns of the “bad director” moniker and worked it masterfully to his advantage. Whether this was his own tactic or a sort of “viral” recoup of bad press devised by publicists, hats off to whoever came up with the ploy. But, reality check: Uwe Boll is doing just fine. He’s loved. People swarmed him at the Postal screening for photos and handshakes. He’s making movies regularly with major film stars (Dungeon Siege being the 2nd film of Boll’s playing at Fantasia this year, a nearly 3 hour opus with what looks like it has some Lord of the Rings-scale spectacle). He’s sold/marketed as a “bad” director, but then, these so-called “bad” movies have become something people obviously love (and the operative word is love) to trash. And he appears to take it all in stride. When you think about it this way, he’s not a bad director at all – he’s a total runaway success story. A real bad director wouldn’t last in the high stakes production world Boll has chosen to situate himself in, they’d be financially shunned or have their spirit broken into not trying any more.

So Boll does deserve applause, and his offscreen antics are a riot. But calling critics to task in the boxing ring, however funny and clever that is, brings the uneasy relationship between critics and filmmakers into the spotlight. What, then, does the implied proposition of the looming punch in the face mean for speaking your mind in a negative way and what is the subsequent answer? Don’t review anything unless you like it? If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all? If there are to be boxing ring punch-outs for bad reviews, can I look forward to being flown out to an exotic red carpet soiree if I say glowing things about the films of Uwe Boll? I somehow doubt that.

I’ve read critical reviews of music and movies and video games all my life, and they’ve helped steer my choices of what to get/watch/play. Sometimes the reviews at the bottom end of the rating scale compel me more so than the high ranking ones – I wonder how something could be so reviled, then I go out of my way to check it out and see for myself what was supposedly so bad about it. I’m also a collector of terribly bad films because I find them so much more unintentionally entertaining than a lot of so-called “good” mainstream films.

From my perspective, Postal doesn’t fit the “so bad it’s good” tag. Maybe some of Boll’s older movies fit the bill, I’ll definitely see if I can track some of them down to find out. But Postal? It’s just slapstick, slip-on-banana-peel humour taken to extremes. It’s almost too bad that Postal can’t be judged outside of the so-called damning criticism Uwe Boll has received and hit back at, because I don’t know how the public would really respond to it without this pretext. I honestly can’t come up with all that much to say about Postal because it’s really basic, obvious comedy, and if there’s a way to “spoil” it, it would be to tell you what the grossest and most offensive jokes and sight gags were.

As a basic rundown, Osama Bin Laden is operating out of the backroom of a corner store in an American city. He has Bush, his good buddy, on speed dial. A corrupt cult leader is trying to secure a delivery of Avian Bird flu. So is Bin Laden. Everything ends up converging and everyone goes berserk, mass shootouts ensue, hence the link to the video game Postal. That’s about it, really. Add in gratuitous jokes at every possible opportunity, make them as offensive as possible, and you have Uwe Boll’s latest in a nutshell.

Postal strives to offend across the board and pretty much succeeds. As my pal Evil Andy pointed out, it’s like Uwe Boll looked at a wall of buttons you could press on offensive topics and instead of picking and choosing he hit them all at once. Almost every taboo is dragged out into the daylight and given an unwanted aggressive tickling here – 9/11, overweight people, invalids, immigrants, dead kids, pedophilia, scatological sex, white trash, the holocaust, anti-Jewish biases, outright racism … it’s all fair game for comedic prodding as far as Boll is concerned, he must at least be commended for sparing no one.

But the effect is just obnoxious, stupid, and grating. With its central terrorist/Bush context and the harsh view of organized religion, Postal seems to posture as some kind of subversive political film, but to me it was more like Police Academy or Cannonball Run for the Jackass generation.

That said, a lot of people love this kind of stuff. If you like “South Park”, or Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, or “Jackass”, you’ll probably like this movie. I don’t really like any of that stuff at all, so I’m obviously biased. The audience at the screening of Postal was freaking out during the film, cheering, screaming, carrying on, having a real blast. Just because I’m a curmudgeon who doesn’t like this type of comedy doesn’t mean Postal is without appeal to a hell of lot of people. As a testament to that, check out Nomad’s review of Postal on Dread Central.

But I have to be honest, I thought Postal sucked. I gave it ½ a dagger extra simply because I couldn’t believe Uwe Boll had the balls to make fun of … well, watch the first 5 minutes. You’ll see. I did laugh at that part, I cannot tell a lie.

1 1/2 out of 5

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