NYPost 'VULGAR' review

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Posted by Ming at bgp571923bgs.eatntn01.nj.comcast.net on April 26, 2002 at 17:19:17:



Rating: ***
April 26, 2002 --


Clown comedy is no laughing matter.

Running time: 92 minutes. Not rated (rape, violence, profanity). At the
Angelika, Houston and Mercer streets.

TO say that "Vulgar" is not for all tastes might be the understatement
of the year. For starters, this black comedy has a male rape scene
that makes the one in "Deliverance" seem mild by comparison.

"Vulgar" is the first of several micro-budgeted features from Kevin
Smith's View Askew production company to reach the market, and
writer-director Bryan Johnson has a much darker taste in humor than
his patron.

Brian O'Halloran, best known as a hangdog convenience-store
habitué in Smith's "Clerks," gives an extraordinarily brave and moving
performance as Flappy, whose work as a clown at children's parties
in central New Jersey doesn't quite cover the bills at his monstrous
mother's nursing home.

So Flappy invents the alter-ego of Vulgar and places an
advertisement offering to appear at bachelor parties in a different kind
of clown drag - complete with bustier and fishnet stockings.

But Vulgar's first gig ends with him being sexually assaulted at
knifepoint and gunpoint by a leering redneck (the truly frightening
Jerry Lewkowitz) and his two twisted sons (Matthew Maher and Ethan

A traumatized Flappy makes it back to the kiddie circuit, only to
become a media celebrity when he bravely intervenes in a
hostage-taking at a party.

A TV producer (a very funny Smith in a very un-Silent Bob-like turn)
signs him up for a TV show, and the ratings soon soar. But then
Flappy starts getting blackmail demands from his assailants, who
threaten to release a videotape of the gang rape.

Thematically similar to the recent "Death to Smoochy," "Vulgar" is a
more interesting, if less polished, movie.

Johnson, who also appears as Flappy's confidant, is a veteran
video-store clerk who packs his film with references to little-known
films - Flappy's bathtub scene after the assault is an homage to
"Something Wild" (1961), a groundbreaking rape drama that starred
Carroll Baker.

"Vulgar" prompted a mass walkout when it premiered at the Toronto
Film Festival a year and a half ago. But for those willing to risk being
made very uncomfortable, this instant cult classic announces the
arrival of a distinctive new talent behind the camera.

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