HITS is a dark comedy exploring the nature of fame in 21st Century YouTube America. The film takes place in a small town in upstate New York populated by people who trade in unrealistic expectations. Its a story in which fame, delusion, earnestness, and recklessness meet, shake hands, and disrupt the lives around them. Written by
Decidedly mediocre, desperately needs to be edited down
Ahhh, Hits. It's one of those movies that you want to like going in more than you actually like after seeing it.
I think the main problem with this movie is that it suffers tremendously from "my first film" disease. Cross wrote and directed it, and because of that doesn't seem to be willing or able to throw anything away.
For example, Michael Cera plays a drug dealer and has two scenes. In those scenes we find that another character really likes a particular type of weed. That character's liking that particular type of weed is never referenced thereafter. (Nor is weed itself!) In other words, the two scenes with Cera are entirely superfluous to the story, they don't have us gain any insight into the characters (other than weed choice), and in general are just a waste of the audience's time. They don't make the characters any more relate-able, they don't draw you into the story, they just sit there like giant boxes on a storyboard taking up time and space but not advancing anything.
In a similar vein, we learn that another character's wife is baby crazy. This character being baby crazy is not used for comedic effect, it doesn't affect the actions of the main characters in any way, and again just takes up time. The movie would be exactly the same (the characters would still have motivation and do exactly the same things) if that entire character was excised from the script! So if that character is a giant GNDN, why are we wasting time learning about them?
Both of these scenes really typify the problems that Hits has; it has the genesis of a lot of funny ideas but few are seen through to completion and payoff. Baby crazy lady could make an unexpected entry into the final train wreck scene, adding tension and zaniness. Instead she attends safe and sound via teleconference -- no zaniness or tension there. The other character's choice of weed (or even tendency to smoke weed!) could have been used to play off the cops that are around town. Nope. Even one character who is caught peeping in a window is never brought to justice nor is said peeping ever referenced again. What a waste!
The giant train wreck at the end is a proved winning formula for a movie, but unfortunately comes very late. Moreso, it isn't a large enough train wreck payoff to satisfy the journey getting there. It needed more characters' threads coming together rather than only three to be a really satisfying payoff. More to the point, the great reveal is handled fairly ham-handedly and is formulaic.
There are some funny scenes in Hits, but as Cross' own introduction says you'll laugh more than three times but definitely less than ten. The movie itself isn't a train wreck, but I really wish it was more (and paradoxically, less) than it currently is.
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