UK: 18 / USA: R
Directed by Streck Goblin, whose previous film "Gout! Run!" won best picture at none of last year's award ceremonies, the tiresomely-named new Arthur Harber-Ausgang vehicle is a movie of great juxtaposition.
As is well-known, 7ft tall Harber-Ausgang has built his career on playing craggy hulking characters with unexplainably foreign accents clashing brutally against great odds, usually in the name of America, the American army, American cigarettes, or any other US institution of national importance. For instance, Harber-Ausgang's most recent epic, 2006's "Here Comes My Massive Tank", pitted a typically bile-mannered US sergeant character against the fictional country of Niger.
"Burgeoning Bludgeoning" tries to temper a similar character to the more dowdy setting of suburban New Hampshire, where Harber-Ausgang's character, Milo Boomkraft, is a Navy Seal on 6 months suspension, idly frustrated at his lack of occupation. Boomkraft's boredom casually leads him to suspect one of his neighbours of stealing his daily newspaper from his lawn every morning. From such innocent beginnings, the film soon spirals into Boomkraft initiating a campaign of unfettered violence upon the majority of his hapless neighbours, each suspected of some minor trespass, such as failing to pick up their pet dog's faeces or yawning openly in the street. His gleeful killing spree is initially both heart-warming and educational, but these positives are duly overcast by a crucial problem inherent to this actor’s films.
What frustrates most about Harber-Ausgang's output of late is not his dry unconvincing delivery, his abnormally flared nostrils, nor his unconscious acting tic of slowly scratching his groin area every time he converses with a female character. No, the problem lies in the contractual obligation to insert his most famous line from "The Thatcher", the film that made him a household name, into every subsequent script he is invested in.
The phrase "I'm a sack" had a poignant significance in his best role, used at a point when his title character realised allegorically his position in the ruthless roofing business. We even forgave the phrase's use in "Empire of the Japanese" where Harber-Ausgang played a Japanese businessman who had to explain to his wife that he had just been fired. But in "Burgeoning Bludgeoning", the use is one sack too far.
Camouflaged under a pile of rags whilst hiding in a shed, Boomkraft whines "I'm a sack" in an effort to deter his investigating neighbour a few feet away. I sat in bewilderment as the neighbour uttered happily "I guess you must be" before returning to his household, sated that his investigation was unnecessary. The realism of the film had been hard-hitting and convincing in the previous two hours, but after this scene, the remaining hour and a half seemed hollow and full of babbling. I tore my popcorn box in half and made a cardboard bird out of sheer boredom.
So, in summation, if you enjoy watching the first half of a film, but lack the attention span to see it through or are slightly narcoleptic, Streck Goblin's new film may have been made just for you. Admittedly, Harber-Ausgang's notoriously confused fan base, or "Ausgangites", will ensure this film is a box-office success anyway, but whether it deserves it is anyone's guess.