Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dark Horse: Movie Review

Dark Horse

Cast: Selma Blair, Jordan Gelbar

Writer and Director: Todd Solondz

* and a 1/2 out of four.

The characters in "Dark Horse" are ones that I find to be pretty damn funny and it looked like that was the intent Todd Solondz had in mind.  All throughout this movie I was laughing at these people, especially the main character.  But then, near the end, the tone changed and some dramatic moments were added in to make me feel bad for laughing.  These scenes were completely out of context, because none of the characters do anything to evoke any sympathy from me at all.  It's almost like the director is sitting behind me asking me to laugh at these people, but then when I do, he tells me to stop.

The main character in this movie is a guy called Abe (Jordan Gelbar).  He's thirty, lives at home, and works for his father (Christopher Walken).  In most movies, he would be the loveable man-child, but there isn't anything loveable about this person at all.  We first see him at a wedding where he meets Miranda (Selma Blair), a very depressed woman who is on lots of medication.  Abe doesn't see any of that and immediately falls in love with her.  Most people can clearly see that she has no interest in him at all, but that doesn't stop him from asking her to be his wife.  When Miranda's ex-boyfriend (Aasif Mandvi) tells her that she should settle for less or she'll be alone for the rest of her life, she decides to play along with the whole wedding idea even though she really doesn't want to.

The biggest problem I have with this movie was the character of Abe.  The guy is a complete asshole right from the start and makes no effort to be a better person.  The man barely works at his job and does nothing but collect toys and go to movies all day.  He is constantly arguing with everyone who is doing better, but he acts like he's a real success.  You could also make the same argument for Miranda, because she also still lives with her parents and doesn't have a job or really a clue about anything, but at least she's not a completely hateful bitch either.  Both of his parents (Mia Farrow and Walken) at one point probably did love their son, but now have become so used to him being a failure that they no longer care.

I usually like movies by Todd Solondz.  He has a distinct style and creates some really interesting characters.  "Welcome to the Dollhouse", "Happiness", and "Storytelling" are among his best works, because they feature interesting and fascinating characters. The acting from the main leads is good.  I just did not care about any of them and that I blame on the writing and directing.  You can't expect me to all of a sudden to start feeling bad for a character when all you did for the past hour was to get me to laugh at him.  I did like that in this movie, as well as others, he adds in this very happy soundtrack amongst all the dark themes that are presented and I do like that ironic sensibility.


  1. Obligatory stupid question: is it called "Dark Horse" because he collects horse figurines and is in search of a rare black-haired stallion? If so, this movie deserves ALL OF THE STARS.

    Joking aside, a nice review. A shame that they pulled that drama switcheroo so late in the game, but hey, what are you gonna do? (Well, I guess you COULD laugh some more, but I imagine that would be pretty distasteful.)

    1. Actually Dark Horse used to be about a black private eye who one day while chasing down a voodoo king suspects gets his soul trapped inside a horse.

      Thanks for the comment Voltech. It's funny you mentioned about laughing more because the end credits play that really happy upbeat music after all the drama. It's Almost like hearing Daft Punk's One More Time at the end of Old Boy