5.4/10
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24 user 17 critic

Hell and Back (2015)

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Two best friends set out to rescue their pal after he's accidentally dragged to hell.

Directors:

Tom Gianas, Ross Shuman
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Popularity
2,862 ( 2,509)
2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Nick Swardson ... Remy (voice)
Mila Kunis ... Deema (voice)
Bob Odenkirk ... The Devil (voice)
T.J. Miller ... Augie (voice)
Rob Riggle ... Curt (voice)
Susan Sarandon ... Barb the Angel (voice)
Danny McBride ... Orpheus (voice)
Maria Bamford ... Gloria (voice)
Lance Bass ... Boy Band Demon (voice)
H. Jon Benjamin ... The Tree (voice)
Jennifer Coolidge ... Durmessa (voice)
John Farley ... Welcome to Hell Demon (voice)
Jenna Gianas Jenna Gianas ... Hell Announcer (voice)
Dennis Gubbins ... Larry the Demon (voice)
Jay Johnston ... Rick the Lost Soul (voice)
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Storyline

Two best friends set out to rescue their pal after he's accidentally dragged to hell.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Welcome to Hell.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content, language and some drug use. | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 October 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hell & Back See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$104,374, 4 October 2015, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$156,166, 11 October 2015
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

ShadowMachine See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first film by ShadowMachine, a studio known for shows like Robot Chicken. See more »

Quotes

Remy: Just swear on the book of Beelzebub.
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Connections

References Jersey Boys (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

The Devil Strut
Written by Ryan Franks and Scott Nickoley
Courtesy of Brunello Music, UIMPYRE o/b/o Pendulum Music
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User Reviews

 
Joins the ranks with its other lackluster, adult-animated contemporaries
3 October 2015 | by Steve PulaskiSee all my reviews

"Hell & Back" poses a sharp contrast in quality between the wealth of its talented voice cast and the sheer pedestrian mediocrity of its screenplay. It's amazing that a barrage of talented and proved comics from the likes of T.J. Miller, Mila Kunis, Bob Odenkirk, and J.B. Smoove, would subject themselves to something so bland and ugly. From its choppy stop-motion style of animation, its lack of real creativity in its jokes, and its miserable color palette, there is a striking joylessness present in "Hell & Back" that is only highlighted by the film's lackluster writing.

The story opens in a failing theme-park, largely run by slacker employees Remy (voiced by Nick Swardson), Augie (T.J. Miller), and Curt (Rob Riggle). When Curt borrows a mint from Remy, taking a blood oath to pay him back before reneging on his promise shortly after, the three are sucked into a vortex that takes them to Hell, where they are seen as "mortals" awaiting sacrifice. While Curt is the only one who is set to be sacrificed, for breaking a blood oath, Remy and Augie are also planned to be executed simply because of their presence in Hell as mortals. As a result, they team up with a demon named Deema (Mila Kunis), who is searching for Orpheus, a famous spirit who is said to have saved countless mortals who's souls were doomed to perish in Hell in time before the Devil (Bob Odenkirk) decides to sacrifice the three men.

Despite the high stakes, the film feels like a constant array of tired stoner jokes written by a gang of adolescents that still find using at least two curse words in every sentence is hilarious. Admittedly, however, the film did get some laughs out of me when the small-scale, background jokes took over. Consider the scenes that involve the demons of Hell tempting the souls by having a Taco Bell/Pizza Hut counter. When one of the souls requests a pepperoni pizza, the demon informs him that they only have the Pizza Hut sign up as decoration and they are only a Taco Bell. "Welcome to Hell," the demon says whilst giggling, upon informing the poor soul. This happens a couple of other times in the film and works because of how simply outlandish and ridiculous the scene plays out, in addition to a few scenes of demons looking up the sins of the souls to see what constitutes their presence in Hell.

These scenes are few and far between, however, as the bulk of the film has Remy and Augie bumbling on to random setpieces in Hell, witnessing some crass display of juvenile gags all captured in some of the most visually ugly scenery I've seen all year. With all the lame jokes occurring and the setting feeling so dim and dingy, there's simply very little positivity in this film to keep an upbeat frame of mine. Comedies set in underworlds or places of little hope obviously have difficultly meriting this constant stream of upbeat humor in contrast to the setting, but when both elements fall apart here, "Hell & Back" doesn't have a leg to stand on, frankly.

Finally, there's a real cheapness to the animation here. The stop-motion animation is evidently rushed, as characters, especially when walking or moving very quickly, show a peculiar jerkiness to their motions that indicates that figures' poses were shifted too quickly, and thus, don't appear fluid. This doesn't occur frequently, but when it does, it makes the whole film seem off balance, and, much like the writing, poorly conceived.

I remember hearing of "Hell & Back" earlier in the year and thought it would be something of a box office surprise; we rarely get adult animated films, and if we do, they are usually so obsessed with the idea of being vulgar and animated ("Cheech and Chong's Animated Movie" and "Jay and Silent Bob's Super Groovy Cartoon Movie" to name a few) that they wind up being throwaway projects of little merit. I felt that the talented cast of this particular film would crush that stereotype and lift it up to certain quality. Unfortunately, with the startlingly silent marketing for the film and the quiet release, "Hell & Back" will likely join other contemporaries as an experiment that failed largely because of its worst tendencies.


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