Directed by Jacob Vaughan
Known for more character driven stories centering around disenfranchised twenty-somethings, it’s unexpected, to say the least, that the Duplass brothers (Puffy Chair, Baghead) would produce a movie about a ferocious anal demon, but with Jacob Vaughan’s Bad Milo they’ve managed to help craft an absurd horror comedy that’s still grounded in reality. Of course, the story never takes itself too seriously; yet, the focus on the everyday stresses of life make it surprisingly relatable.
In his first starring role, Ken Marino (“Party Down”, Wet Hot American Summer) plays the Milton-esque character Duncan, a troubled man with stomach problems who is approaching his breaking point. His obnoxious boss, Phil (Patrick Warburton), bears down on him as his loving but nagging wife, Sarah (Gillian Jacobs), grows increasingly impatient with his inability to give her a child of their own. His mother, Beatrice (Mary Kay Place), is also in the midst of a highly sexual love affair with a much younger man (Kumail Nanjiani) who won’t stop giving him love advice while he serves up spicy Indian food. Enter (or exit) Milo, a monstrous miniature creature birthed out of Marino’s ass that’s hell-bent on ridding the world of Duncan’s problems once and for all.
Milo is very much a fully realized character, expressing a wide range of emotion throughout the film that mirror the struggles and joys that Duncan goes through as he tries to come to grips with his new sidekick. Even going so far as to start seeing an eccentric psychotherapist (Peter Stormare) to help subdue Milo (and his own rage in the process), Duncan is determined to solve his problems once and for all before too many people are hurt. But Milo is so strangely lovable that we’re rooting for him to finish what he started, until things strike a little too close to home, that is. Voiced by Steve Zissis (Baghead) and entirely practical (no CGI here), Milo isn’t really a sidekick at all and when the credits roll you already want to see a little more from him.
Marino certainly does not take a backseat to Milo once he comes out of his backend, and finally seeing him in almost every scene in a film he appears in, for once, is an absolute delight and the shtick never gets tiresome because of his believability as someone really having to deal with a rampaging butt gremlin. Playing the downtrodden everyman who just wants desperately for everything to work out in the end with ease, Marino takes a leap forward here as a leading man with heart.
Except for Milo’s jagged teeth and bloody acts of revenge, Bad Milo is certainly more comedy than horror, but it never goes off the rails completely and the base humor doesn’t ever wear out its welcome because it’s used sparingly. As a result, the story remains consistent: the lead character is forced to face his problems and the concerned parties (yes, even Milo in his own way) try to come up with a way for Duncan to finally come out on top instead of always ending up on the bottom.
Bad Milo is now available On Demand with a limited theatrical run beginning on October 4.
3 1/2 out of 5