Thursday, April 4, 2013

Postal (live action movie), via Netflix

Postal is a black comedy based on the game series of the same name. Not even my dad wanted to watch this. Since he enjoyed playing Postal 2, that should tell you something.

Synopsis:

Postal Dude's life kind of sucks. His wife is fat, nags him all the time, and sleeps around. He has no job and little chance of getting one, considering his prison record.

His Uncle Dave operates a "religious" compound that is basically just a thinly-veiled excuse to convince lots of women to have sex with him. Uncle Dave finds out he's in trouble with the IRS and asks for Postal Dude's help. At first, Postal Dude turns him down, trying to keep on the straight and narrow. He eventually changes his mind, I think after accidentally killing someone. Anyway, Uncle Dave's plan to quickly make a lot of money involves sneaking into the Little Germany theme park, where they will be selling some of the hugely popular Krotchy dolls. The dolls are so popular and their quantity is so limited that a single doll can sell for as much as $4000 online.

What Uncle Dave and Postal Dude don't know is that a bunch of terrorists, including Osama bin Laden, are also after the Krotchy dolls for their own reasons.
 
Review:

I've never played either of the Postal games, although I did watch my dad play the second one several years ago. So, I knew what I was getting into – I admit, I watched the movie mostly out of morbid curiosity. I can't say how much the movie drew from the first Postal game, but I noticed quite a few details I remembered from Postal 2.

Postal 2 was, and I think still is, a very controversial game. If I remember correctly, the game doesn't have much of a story. The main character, Postal Dude, is given a “to do” list by his wife. It all sounds like fairly simple stuff: buying milk, turning in a library book, etc. Unfortunately for Postal Dude, his world is populated by armed psychos. Of which he is also one.

According to my dad, it is entirely possible to beat the game without ever once resorting to violence. However, I imagine most people would go crazy trying to complete it that way, so it's not long before Postal Dude picks up weapons and starts offing people who get in the way of finishing his “to do” list. These people include protesters of violent video games, police officers, Gary Coleman, and many others.

It's hard to tell after so many years, but I think Postal (the movie) might be even more offensive than the game. I initially kept a list of offensive things that occurred or were said and finally just gave up because I was having to write things down every few minutes. Here's a sampler of some of the things that are used as joke fodder: the destruction of the World Trade Center, obese people, foreigners (mostly Arabs, who of course either knew terrorists or were terrorists themselves), gay people, rape, bestiality, people in wheelchairs, women, the Holocaust (among many other awful details, the Little Germany theme park had a “Dr. Mengele's First Aid station”), and Jewish people. There was on-screen vomiting, and one of the characters had loud, smelly diarrhea. On-screen nudity included both full-frontal male nudity (Postal Dude's Uncle Dave) and several women's breasts. Although the deaths weren't exactly realistic (the blood often looked like tomato sauce, and I spotted at least a couple “dead” people breathing), they did include a huge number of children. Oh yes, and animal lovers aren't safe either: the cat silencer from the Postal 2 game is included in the movie. I hated it just as much in the movie as I did in the game.

The deaths were handled with no more gravity in the movie than they were in the video game. Postal Dude wasn't shocked when someone opened fire at the DMV (or whatever that place was). No, he just dropped to the ground and crawled around to check bodies for numbered tickets so that he could get further up in line. When one of the movie's cops shot an elderly lady for holding everyone up by not driving when the light turned green, I don't think anyone freaked out. Violence happened, and it didn't even make a ripple in anyone's day, as long as they weren't personally being shot at.

Postal Dude himself was actually pretty non-violent during most of the movie. He put up with an interviewer who tricked him into thinking he might have a chance at a job and then forced him to sing in front of the company's workers. He put up with his wife, who yelled at him and didn't even attempt to hide the fact that she was sleeping with any man who visited their trailer home. He put up with his landlord, who, among other things, grinned as he joked about having sex with Postal Dude's wife. Most of the random acts of violence were committed by people other than Postal Dude, although he did eventually arm himself just like everyone else.

The movie was going for “dark comedy,” but it just wasn't funny at all, not even in a “I'm laughing at something I shouldn't be” kind of way. The story was extremely simple and many scenes could have been cut out without losing a thing, other than a tick mark on Uwe Boll's list of “offensive things to include in the movie.”

I wasn't expecting this movie to be good, but some parts of it turned out to be even worse than I expected. For some reason, I had an easier time dealing with certain aspects in the game than I did in the movie. Live people versus pixels makes a difference, at least to me. The one halfway decent thing about the movie was probably Zack Ward, who played the Postal Dude. He actually managed to come across as somewhat sympathetic.

Watch-alikes:
  • You Don't Mess With the Zohan (live action movie) - This is one of the first movies that popped into my head as a watch-alike, due to its sexual jokes and stereotyping of Israeli and Palestinian people. I watched it early on in the life of this blog. I don't know how I'd feel about it now, but I thought it was fairly funny back then.
  • Hot Fuzz (live action movie) - From what I remember, not nearly as crude and offensive as Postal. It's also slow to get going. However, once the carnage starts, it's like what I imagine a live action movie version of Postal might be like if it were made so that it could actually be shown in theaters. The townspeople are lethal.
  • Big Stan (live action movie) - I haven't seen this and don't plan to, since I can't stand Rob Schneider. However, the description makes it sound like a good potential watch-alike for those looking for another crude and potentially offensive comedy. The main character is a con man who finds out he's going to prison. He hires a martial arts expert to teach him how to protect himself from being hurt or raped while in prison.

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