“Are you stupid or what?” exclaims Zabulon (Harpo Guit) to his brother Issacher (Maxi Delmelle) about halfway into Mother Schmuckers, a crass, raucous comedy from Guit and his brother Lenny Guit. To his credit, Zabulon is quite right. Yes, they are both stupid, and yes, it is an unbearable experience watching them traipse around Brussels exhibiting their idiocy onto everyone that gets in their way for what amounts to 70 unending minutes of screentime.
The film doesn’t have a linear plot, per se. One could say it involves the brothers looking for a lost dog or fending off one of their mother’s lecherous suitors. But it is more rightly described as episodic, with each episode doubling down on the provocation of the film’s opening scene (in which the two brothers are introduced cooking human excrement and attempting to force their mother to eat it, prompting her to vomit onto the camera in a grotesque freeze frame that presents the film’s title card). This is what we’re dealing with here.
It is possible to make a fun movie about supremely horrible, supremely unlikable, supremely incompetent people. But this doesn’t strike me as the right way to do it. It may provide the film too much credit to call it utterly depraved—that may pique the interests of some. But let me warn you: this is not an exciting or morbidly engrossing form of depraved that one can rubberneck at as if driving alongside a dumpster fire. This is a largely dull visual eyesore whose provocation is abrasive and for its own sake.
The frenetic episodes these two brothers steamroll through are rarely amusing—the jury’s out, frankly, on if they are meant to be in the first place. Perhaps the distasteful action and general nauseating quality of the film would function more effectively were it filmed more competently, not as erratic and jumbled as the lead characters’ inept logic.
At first, I thought this film was going to try and take a page from John Waters, but it ended up reminding me most of Tom Green’s Freddy Got Fingered. In my mind, this is not a praiseworthy comparison. Although, like every critically-panned movie that is more than 10 years old, Freddy Got Fingered has received a critical reappraisal from some. So perhaps Mother Schmuckers is for somebody. In my case, 70 minutes could not have felt longer.
Mother Schmuckers is screening as part of the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival taking place from Aug. 5 to Aug. 25.
Mother Schmuckers: D+
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