Broadcast or ignore?
Now on VOD, Drunk bus has all the things in one fell swoop: OzarkCharlie Tahan plays a sad bus driver, a potential star in the personality of Austin’s body-mod Pineapple Tangaroa (whose role in the film inspired a tangy and collectable Mondo poster), Kingdom of Moonrise‘s Kara Hayward in a supporting role and an opening title card for the ages, “Inspired by real shit.” (So it’s not technically a BOATS movie – based on a true story, if you’re not plugged in – and that’s fine, fine I say.) In a Fair World, John’s directorial debut Carlucci and Brandon LaGanke would win over a large cast of viewers; here’s why it’s a winner and worth your five dollars.
Drunk bus: Broadcast or ignore?
The essential: February. Kent, Ohio. A university town. The Emoticon Era – 2006. Misery: Michael (Tahan) sets the bus on fire, goes through security, gently rips leopard-skin panties off the floor and throws them out the door. His boss whines on CB radio, “affectionately” calling Michael F-chop. CAMPUS LOOP, read the digital sign on the windshield, and that’s the life of Michael. Passed the same Christmas lights that have not yet been taken down, past the still misspelled restaurant sign (“roast beaf”, “quesodila”), in front of the frat house where the fratboys splash the windshield with pennies -seamans with meatballs and the like, in front of F— Toi Bob (Martin Pfefferkorn), the old man in the motorized chair Michael is watching, and F – Toi Bob shouting “F – you” is his reward. Passengers chug 40 and show their ass and Michael picks them up in the dorms and drops them off in bars and picks them up in bars and drops them off in the dorms and it’s clear he’s the only person in this vehicle not have fun – then gag as he cleans up after the drunk girl who blew doodoo all over the aisle.
He comes and goes. It’s a metaphor, you see, for Michael’s life. He graduated and was a pretty decent photographer-artist, but when Amy (Sarah Mezzanotte) threw him in after five years together – sexless because God was still watching, you can pause and moan mournfully for him here – he carved a rotten little rut for himself that has gotten deeper for many months now. He has a few friends in Kat (Hayward) and Justin (Tonatiuh), but they don’t seem to hang around except when Michael accompanies them. Her roommate (Zach Cherry) is a doofus who is a registered sex offender because he got peed in a parking lot at Chuck E. Cheese. Michael drives all night and goes to bed and gets up in the afternoon and masturbates to photos of Amy on his Razr flip phone and is shortlisted for a workplace safety award for four years without incident, a reward which carries with it the reward of full-time employment of $ 25,000 / year. Then Amy texts and says she’s going to be in town and that they should get together, and Michael, as usual, waffles more than the Eggo Factory. It types answer after answer and deletes them all.
One night, Michael tries to sort out unruly crapheads on the bus and gets blown in the face for his efforts – the kind of shit that fits perfectly into our dear, melancholy bus driver’s cycle of self-hatred. So the boss hires him security in the form of Pineapple (Tangaroa), a beefy Samoan decked out in facial tattoos, crazy ear gauges, punk rock studs and leather. Pineapple can talk to anyone and is full of wacky wisdom and gives some good head-butt lessons, which Michael needs a little bit. Michael’s routine is turned upside down by a great personality that inspires him to relax and live in the moment – smoking weed, setting off big, loud fireworks in the wee hours, fighting the a- holes for a change, maybe having a sex accident it’s like American pie meets The Exorcist. You know, stuff like that.
What movies will it remind you of ?: Drunk bus is a post-Apatow comedy enveloping elements of Pineapple Express, Neighbors (the one from 2014, not the lost masterpiece of Aykroyd / Belushi 1981), Old school and such thrills, with a bit of neo-emo thrills from Super bad and Booksmart.
Performance to watch: Tangaroa disrupts the usual tropes with a wise-bizarre characterization that shows a small, mysterious soul depth beneath the madness of the surface. It brings energy to the film without resorting to silly caricature or OTT openings.
Memorable dialogue: Kat sums up Pineapple’s de-escalation techniques: “He’s like the great whisperer!”
Pineapple’s wisdom, applied to the subject of sex: “F-in is important!”
Gender and skin: Did i mention the American pie meets The Exorcist scene? Yes? Well, you’ve been warned.
Our catch: Drunk bus is a large slice of pepperoni pizza with a hint of chili flakes – a comfort food dish with just enough spice to make it interesting. The character of Michael comes from a long line of movie depresso-crybabies who have to be grabbed by the setbacks and strangled from their sleepy not-really-life, and we sympathize with him in the generic way we do with all of those. which are not particularly. charismatic but has the potential to be more than just a sack of shit. Wisely, screenwriter Chris Molinaro surrounds the bland protagonist by design with funny and authentic characters, with the underrated Hayward (go watch To the stars, stat!), Dave Hill as the sloppy weed merchant known as Devo Ted (Devo as in “Whip It”) and the larger-than-life Tangaroa adding color to existence’s barf beige tones by Michael.
With its bursts of classic, crass college humor, no one will go wrong Drunk bus for a masterpiece, but it’s smarter than your average mainstream yuckfest and funny without being hyperbolic. He peels a layer of two of his characters’ onions and scrapes off just enough heartfelt tonal chords that we care about any bruised hearts or broken friendships that might arise as Michael tries to pull his boots out of the mud. I laughed and did a shit, which doesn’t always happen in movies about post-graduate go-nowheres who drink a lot and don’t know each other.
Our call: Spread it. Drunk bus is charming in its ramshackle and often funny way. It’s a step to the left of the usual comedy. Team up with the similar tones of the recent coming-of-age dram-com North Hollywood and enjoy.
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Learn more about his work on johnserbaatlarge.com or follow him on Twitter: @johnserba.
Where to stream Drunk bus