At one point during Buzzard, Joshua Burge’s Marty sits in a hotel bed, wearing nothing but a robe, wordlessly eating spaghetti for about three minutes. And it’s totally awesome.
Really, that may be all you need to know about Joel Potrykus’ latest film, which follows long-haired, sad-eyed Marty, a quintessential slacker who thinks the world is against him. Disgruntled with his job as a temp worker, he tries to find a way to come out ahead of corporate America, though his efforts merely consist of a few small scams. As his anger and discontent boils its way to the surface, every poor decision Marty makes ultimately digs him deeper and deeper into trouble, a trouble which is compounded even further by his own paranoia.
Unlike most movies about someone finding a way to stick it to the man, the stakes here are fairly low, which is really a great reflection of Marty’s expectations. It makes sense that a guy who would rather stay in a basement all day playing Nintendo and drinking Mountain Dew would also be the one to risk going to jail over $90.
We’ve all met Martys. Some of you have probably even worked with one. I had the misfortune of living with one for six of the longest months of my life. There’s one thing that lies at the root of that archetype – no matter how many problems he causes for himself, he fails to realize that he is the main reason for his unhappiness. In Buzzard, Marty constantly seems to loathe the rest of the world. He’s a jerk to everyone, even those who try to help him, yet he can’t fathom why nothing seems to go his way.
Still, for as unlikable as Marty is, Burge plays him in such a way that makes it hard not to root for the guy. He might be pathetic, but Marty really is a compelling character, if for no other reason than the way he seems to hate even his own existence. Burge is strongest in the scenes where Marty knows he’s actually in trouble, letting the realization and the anger build in a way that’s nerve-wracking to watch. Overall, it’s an excellent performance from actor, and almost a sure sign of bigger things to come for him.
For as dark as much of the film is, especially the ending, it almost feels wrong to write about how hilarious certain parts are. Potrykus plays Marty’s coworker Derrick, and their child-like relationship provides much of the comedy for the story. Their lack of maturity isn’t as drastic as some other modern comedies, but seem like a couple of guys who never had the desire or a reason to start acting like fully-functioning adults. The result is something that’s much subtler and much funnier than a traditional comedy. It’s impressive that Potrykus was able to balance both the darker elements with the more comedic ones in his script.
One thing that doesn’t work, however, is that Potrykus keeps from condemning Marty’s actions, at least directly, and that’s part of where the film ultimately falls short. I found myself constantly thinking that there was no way this deadbeat would get away with the crap he was pulling, but time and time again he does, with hardly any sort of consequence. While the unpredictability is nice, it’s almost as if the story is too disdainful for humanity, which can be a tad grating at times.
Speaking of the story, there isn’t exactly a traditional arc here. From extended scenes of acting like kids in the basement to an overly-abrupt ending, there are a lot of things that don’t fit within a standard movie. Still, there’s an undeniable charm to everything, even the weirdest moments. There are also a few scenes that some may deem unnecessary, but by being rather pointless, they follow suit with everything else in Marty’s life. It’s interesting to see that concept shown on so many levels throughout the film.
Buzzard is one of the weirdest films I’ve seen in some time, and is somewhat unsatisfying in parts, but there’s a odd allure throughout. The way the movie is able to range from disturbingly dark to light and hilarious is very impressive, and if you’re a fan of slacker movies then you’re definitely going to want to check this one out.
Equal parts delightfully dark and hilarious, Buzzard finds a way to be an enjoyable movie in the weirdest way possible.