Review: Carny

January 26, 2012

I really hope that all of you appreciate me doing this review in the condition I’m in. I’ve been sick since Sunday, coughing my brains out and blowing my nose across the room, but I made a promise to you, and I intend to keep it. Although that could be the off-and-on fever talking. Well, regardless, let’s take a look at Carny.

The film doesn’t waste any time getting started, with a Latino man meeting the owner of a carnival to deliver…some guy in a foam rubber latex. It’s supposed to be some kind of monster, but it’s just so obviously some guy in a suit. The carnival owner says he wasn’t expecting the delivery until the next day, and the delivery man says that he drove non-stop and that he’s glad to be rid of it. The carnival owner asks him to get it off the truck, and the driver says it’s not coming off the truck until he gets paid-wait, wait. Hold on just a second.

So, the guy who’s anxious to get this supposed monster off his truck, is now refusing to take the monster off the truck until he gets his money. You know what, I just have a feeling about this movie, so I’m going to start a counter.

Idiot Count: 1

And then the carnival owner kills him. He and another carnival worker pull this thing out, that from the fake CG shadow it’s casting on the tent is some kind of dragon. It scratches one of the carnival worker’s eyes out as one tranquilizer dart does precisely jack squat against it. I’m going to have to add two to the idiot count: One for the owner who thought one tranq would put down a dragon, and one for the worker for pulling on the chain attached to the dragon.

Idiot Count: 3

The owner calls someone on the phone and tells them that the creature arrived intact, and that he’s sure it’ll make a fine addition to their collection. Cut to the next day, and an overhead shot of what can only be described as the cheapest carnival of all time. Here, I have a picture.

I’ve seen more impressive church carnivals. And apparently the film itself gets bored by the lame carnival, because we cut to Lou Diamond Philips as the sheriff of this small town, as a tow truck pulls up carrying the truck that the monster was transported in. He says he found it a half-mile down a muddy old dirt road. Your opinion may vary on this one, but I’m adding one to the idiot count for leaving it intact on an old dirt road, and leaving the plates on it, instead of, say, opening the back doors and pushing it into a lake, or at least setting it on fire so no evidence can be gathered from it.

Idiot Count: 4

Sheriff Diamond Philips finds some kind of skin in the back and tells the tow truck driver to take it around back so he can see what he can dig up. He catches the deputy in the middle of a call with the local pastor who’s upset with the carnival freak show being in town. The sheriff tells him that he has to go check them out anyway, and asks him to track down the New Jersey license plates.

The sheriff tracks down the owner of the carnival in his trailer, thanks to the help of a cheap latex costume character called the two faced man. Sheriff Diamond Philips tells the owner that he’s brought quite the show to town and that he doesn’t think the town has seen anything like it. Wow, this town must be out in the middle of nowhere, or as I like to call it, Montana.

(Just kidding, Montana. There’s no way that anyone in your state could be this oblivious.)

He asks the owner if there are any tricks involved and the owner says no, stating that “what you see is what you get.” Hold on, I have to steal a joke here.

There we are. He offers the sheriff a future reading from his seer, and she sees a vision of death and destruction. They start on their way to see the permits, but get distracted by an exhibit called “God’s Greatest Abomination”, which is the creature from before. The owner reassures the sheriff that the creature is “quite harmless…but easily spooked.” Oh, sure! Because, y’know, you always seeing rabbits scratching people’s eyes out! Wait…

Huh, I guess rabbits really are vicious. Withdrawn.

The sheriff asks him to drop the permits off at the office, and then asks if they’ve had a truck with New Jersey plates break down, and heads back into town. And in a confirmation of my latest addition to the idiot counter, the owner shoves the guy who got his eye scratched out as if to say that he’s an idiot for just leaving the truck out there. And then we shift to a church, where the pastor is loading chairs into his station wagon, setting up for a revival that night.

He tells his son that the carnival people are heathens and cannot be allowed to stay in the town. He says that the town’s very soul is in the balance, and then drives off to set up for the revival (I assume, he never says where he’s going). And now we’re watching a scene in the town general store, where a teenage boy is getting ready to knock off for the day. His mother asks where he’s off to in such a hurry. He says he’s going to a friend’s house, and that he thinks the carnival’s going to be pretty lame. (No argument here.) She asks if the pastor’s son is going to be there and that she doesn’t like him, and the boy says no, gives her a kiss, and leaves.

Okay, before we continue with the movie, I just want to point something out here. See all that text up there? Those slightly less than a thousand words giving an abridged version of the movie? All this happens in sixteen minutes and fifty-five seconds. This movie is extremely rushed, and as a result I’m already starting to not care. You know what? I’m not even going to summarize the rest of this. This movie is so dull that I am going to skip to the end and just give my closing thoughts.

So, long, incredibly boring story short, the creature turns out to be the New Jersey Devil, and it looks like someone crossed a wild boar with the Zuul dogs from Ghostbusters and then added dragon wings to it. Lou Diamond Philips dies, but he takes the devil with him by crashing into the  Ferris Wheel and dropping it on the creature.

Dear God, this movie is awful! In fact, it’s so rushed that it actually feels like the script was originally two or three that because of budget constraints got turned into one movie.  The carnival owner reveals himself to be an evil bastard and batshit insane (traits which you’d know if you, oh I don’t know, weren’t blind or deaf watching this movie), there’s absolutely no character development, and I know I mentioned this already, but the pacing is so awful it deserves to be mentioned twice. I’d say the movie left a bad taste in my mouth, but it’s so bland that it leaves no taste at all. I consider it something of a public service to review these kinds of movies. It saves other people the pain of watching them.

That reminds me, let’s just go ahead and add the writer, director, producers, special makeup effects supervisor, post-production supervisor, assistant art director, the visual effects supervisors, and the entire editorial department to the idiot count. And so, the grand total is…

Idiot Count: 19

Nineteen, ladies and gentlemen! That’s quite an accomplishment, crew of Carny! That’s quite an accomplishment! Quit the business.


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