A Review by: Jeff Turner
Dir: David Cross
Written by: David Cross
Distributed by: Honora Pictures, Brooks Media
Starring: Meredith Hagner, Matt Walsh, David Koechner, Amy Sedaris, Michael Cera, Wyatt Cenac, Jake Cherry, Amy Carlson, James Adomian, Jason Ritter, Russ Tamblyn
I’m a big fan of David Cross. I love Mr. Show and Arrested Development. I thought Todd Margaret was really good; and I’ve also liked quite a bit of his stand-up. I enjoy how blunt he is, and how he is willing to skewer people who are lacking in self-awareness. He picks his targets well, and most of the time he is extremely funny.
His directoral debut, HITS, is a bit of a disappointment, if only for the fact that its something of a mixed bag. The message is worthwhile; and the point Cross is trying to prove is a good one. That point being that we exonerate crazy people, that we make people famous with little justification, creating the “famous solely to be famous crowd”, and that this most recent generation has been frequently told that they’re the best at everything…which is not the truth. The problem is nobody’s told us yet.
Katelyn (Meredith Hagner, hitting all the right notes) is a small-town New Yorker who is dead set on becoming a singer and convinced that she’s going to become world renown for her talent (or lack thereof, as is revealed pretty quickly). Her boss (Amy Sedaris; who is underused, but when is Amy Sedaris not underused?) tries to help her realize this, but to no avail. Meanwhile Katelyn’s father (Matt Walsh) has gotten into activism over various potholes on his street that he believes the people at City Hall aren’t properly addressing.
There are plenty of supporting players; noteworthy are Jason Ritter as a deadbeat who helps Katelyn record her demo, and Jake Cherry as a wangsta who has a hopeless crush on her. I’m not entirely sure Cross uses his large cast as well as he could have; an example of which being that Julia Stiles shows up for maybe 2 minutes and then leaves. Stiles is a talented actress, and I’m sure Cross could have cast her in a different role where she would have been better utilized. Among these supporting players are several hipsters from NYC who see the efforts from Katelyn’s father to reach out to city hall, and through them he goes viral, which ends up drawing media attention.
There’s some pretty glorious irony here, with her father briefly achieving what Katelyn cannot. This conflict is one of HITS stronger traits. Unfortunately the New York hipsters are fairly one note. The actors in question (James Adonian and Wyatt Cenac among others) do a fine job, but all of jokes surrounding these characters inevitably lead to the same punchline (“oh, you hipsters!”) There’s a lot of ‘radio silence’ like that as HITS builds for its climax.
David Cross needed a better editor for this movie, because there’s a solid 15-20 minutes that could be trimmed. One such scene features the father getting ready to go to a town hall and the camera stays on him for a solid 2-3 minutes while he’s just getting ready. I would understand if what I had watched had been more of a rough cut, but this is the kind of thing you edit out before release. The pacing was generally off.
HITS is at least marginally disappointing. Cross has got a funny payoff here, the last 10 minutes are some of the best cringe comedy you’re liable to see in a movie in 2015, but he has not figured out how to make the buildup to his payoff funny. I will recommend the picture though, if only because of that stupendous payoff and how it had me almost on the floor rolling with laughter.
Suggestion: See it; at least for the payoff