Hypocrites. You know what the term means. The modest Christian girl that gave you the you're-a-piece-of-ungodly-filth look whenever you slyly grab a feel of your girlfriend's breast, then you found out a few weeks later that the oh-so-modest Christian girl is pregnant (. . . for the third time). Whether it's mature or not, these sort of simple character contradictions make us angry. If someone judges us, then contradicts their own standard, it's nearly impossible for us not to slap their flaw in their face. It's human nature. In a way, that's how I feel reviewing Baghead. Part of me wants to forgive the films faults and admit that I deep-down somewhat enjoyed it, then the other part of me wants to beat its face bloody for its blatant hypocrisy.
From the opening scene alone, the Duplass brothers make it clear that this is a parody of pretentious indie films. They laugh at the idea that everything low-budget is automatically a work of art. They buddy-slap each other on the arm and chuckle at how many pretentious indie films, labeled as art, just downright suck. For this, I cheered. Finally, I thought, someone has the balls to head-on assault the fine-cinema-whores. This feeling of satisfaction lasted until about 30 minutes into the film.
And then I found out that Baghead was pregnant for the third time. And I was mad.
Most of the dialogue in Baghead is improved. I have nothing against this, and for the most part, it worked decently. It certainly added freshness to the stale paint-by-the-numbers horror dialogue we could all recite in a coma if we had to. But then again, the dialogue is far anything special. This isn't Quentin Tarantino, by a long shot. I don't even remember a single line from Baghead, much less praise it for coming up with godly improvised dialogue. In reality, anyone and their half-drunk friends could say the things these characters say. It's a little fresh, but it's nothing special. That's where the first strike of hypocrisy comes in. It's impossible to overlook that the Duplass brothers, who just parodied the pretentiousness of indie films 30-minutes before, now expect to be praised for coming up with some average dialogue that they seem to think is the height of creativity.
Likewise, the plot is . . . well, okay, there isn't any real plot, and that's the point. Again, the idea of someone running around with a bag on their head and trying to scare you is fresh, but it's far from special or original or even creative. The movie has a very loose non-plot structure, but when you look at it overall, you see Baghead just treads the same exact cliché ground horror movies have treaded for years. All the predictable clichés are here. Topless girls, romantic subplots, lost friends, phone line cuts, car dismantling . . . need I go on, or can you fill in the rest on your own? As with the dialogue, the story structure is presented in a semi-fresh way, but it's still exactly the same thing you've seen thousands of times. If a 12-year-old were to write this story in an English paper, it would get a C- for lack of creativity. So, then, why do we praise this movie made by grown men? The Duplass brothers could think of a much more original story, but they don't. They, just like Hollywood, don't feel like putting out the effort to think of something we haven't heard a thousand times. Or even a hundred times.
I read a comment on one site that said this film was infinitely funnier than the big-budget Hollywood production Tropic Thunder. First, the falsity of that comment made me laugh harder than Baghead did. Second, based on comments like those, it seems the audience that liked Baghead simply liked it because it was low-budget. Close-minded, immature, childish thinking at its most extreme level: If it's indie, it's art; if it's Hollywood, it's crap—no exceptions. I put that statement on the same level of intelligence as I put: If I eat an apple a day, I won't get cancer; if I eat a muffin a day, I'll die of AIDS—no exception. Neither statement reflects reality.
What I'm trying to get across is this. Baghead is fresher and slightly more fun than most big-budget horror productions anymore, but that doesn't mean it's good. And that certainly doesn't make it art. When a 12-year-old kid writes this, it's lack of creativity. When two pretentious indie film makers write this, it's art. Uh-huh. If that's true, I might as well take some crayons, draw a few squiggles on a piece of white paper, put on my suit and tie, and, by God, I'm an artist. Pay me. I put as much effort into that crayon drawing as the Duplass brothers put into this story. So pay me, indie art fans. Pay me. I'm an artist. I swear I'm an artist.
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