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March 8, 2024

‘Hanky Panky’ Review: Seth Green Voices An Evil Hat In Absurd New Comedy

By David Gelmini

Co-directors Nick Roth and Lindsey Haun clearly wanted to create something truly unique and memorable, because Hanky Panky is such a strange film that it almost becomes difficult to put it into words. Roth also provided the screenplay, and he might just have been stoned out of his mind when he came up with the idea for the premise. And in this case, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Jacob DeMonte-Finn stars as Sam, a middle-aged, socially awkward man who seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of fabrics. Sam’s best friend happens to be a talking napkin named Woody, who has a habit of making himself heard on awkward occasions. To make matters worse, Sam soon learns that he was invited on a vacation in a rural cabin by accident, and none of the other holidaymakers who planned to enjoy their trip in the mountainside retreat are thrilled by his presence.

Sam is clearly a guy who can never catch a break. But he never appears to be bitter or hostile towards others, despite their occasional aggression towards him. This makes Sam a likable loser who deserves a better life. Sam explains that his social anxiety means that he feels more comfortable being alone than around others. Hearing him bluntly say this out loud will further increase your desire for Sam to find suitable companionship among his fellow human beings.

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DeMonte-Finn seems to have a natural gift for playing socially awkward characters, and anyone with a socially awkward friend will be convinced by the actor’s portrayal of Sam. Everything from Sam’s slightly nervous manner of introducing himself to his failed attempts at making small talk at dinner is perfectly captured by DeMonte-Finn. His performance fully captures the sadness and embarrassment that Sam clearly feels throughout such moments.

During his stay at the cabin, Sam meets several brazen and outlandish individuals, including an eccentric and intrusive artist known as Dr. Crane (played by Roth), a woman named Carla (Christina Laskay) who wants to watch her husband burning in slow-motion for the rest of eternity, and another woman named Lilith (Azure Parsons), who would rather be doing anything than vacationing here. Although most of his fellow holidaymakers clearly possess better social interaction skills, it soon becomes clear that they are also not exactly the kinds of people you would like to be stuck with in an isolated mountain retreat. But Sam does gradually begin to bond with Diane (Ashley Holliday Tavares), the only other occupant of the cabin who treats him as an actual human being. This leads to a surprising friendship that proves lost souls can be saved if they find the right person.

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Woody’s voice was provided by Toby Bryan, who delivered a surprising amount of humanity into the talking piece of fabric while also ensuring that Harry never comes across as being too aggravating or annoying. It certainly would have been tiresome to hear Woody constantly discussing how he gets turned on by being used to wipe away wet messes, but the times the talking napkin did bring this up were certainly laughable in their own right. Hanky Panky is certainly a film that revels in its absurdity.

It soon becomes clear that all the holidaymakers staying in the remote cabin are unsafe, as an unseen force begins picking them off by sucking out their brains. Tensions begin to rise as the group members begin pointing fingers at one another. But the eventual reveal of the actual culprit is almost too bizarre to put into words. Let us just say that an evil hat named Harry, who originates from another dimension, might just be behind the killings.

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Harry is voiced by none other than Robot Chicken’s Seth Green, who certainly deserves credit for participating in a relatively small and low-key indie project despite his A-list status. Green unsurprisingly injects a healthy dose of humanity into the piece of fabric while also ensuring that Harry never comes across as being too aggravating or annoying. His years of voicing countless characters on Robot Chicken have no doubt fine-tuned his voice-acting abilities to the point where he is now unquestionably a master of the craft. While Harry may just be an extra-dimensional hat with an insatiable appetite for human brains, Green’s vocal performance makes him into a character who achieves equal levels of menace and joviality. The actor’s involvement will also unquestionably be used as one of Hanky Panky‘s key selling points, making his participation all the more commendable.

The climax features a four-minute fight between Harry and Woody. If Hanky Panky worked for you up until this point, you’ll find this sequence to be just as epic and enthralling as any of the battles from the Lord of the Rings movies. Yes, it was silly to see a hat and a napkin going at it for a prolonged period, and even sillier to hear the human characters shouting words of advice and encouragement while this was going on. But it was suitably crazy, nonetheless.

Needless to say, Hanky Panky is a truly unique and downright bizarre film that’ll either leave you in fits of laughter or have you questioning what you just watched. It may be a little too strange and outlandish for some, but those of you who are willing to embrace its unashamed weirdness and its brazen nonconformity are in for a great time.

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