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Tribeca Review: Despite Myriad Celebrity Cameos 'Revenge For Jolly!' Is Excruciating

by Gabe Toro
April 22, 2012 1:18 PM
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Revenge For Jolly

Kudos to Brian Petsos, a bit actor who has pulled off an Orson Welles-level achievement in not only nabbing a brilliant cast to star in “Revenge For Jolly!” which he wrote, but also having the clout to save the lead role for himself. Welles did this with his talent, vision and status as a cinematic titan. Petsos, if we’re being charitable, most likely had to resort to blackmail, extortion and/or just plain bribery, as “Revenge For Jolly!” may be the most excruciating 80+ minutes you spend in a theater this year.

Petsos plays Harry, an organized crime underling who has upset the wrong people. One such person comes to his house while Harry is away and ritualistically murders his precious dog, Jolly, whom we are led to believe was the only thing keeping Harry away from the precipice of despair. Harry is familiar, of course; a rangy, mumbly Jeremy Davies-type, though Petsos gives this lunkhead a gaunt, worried visage and slicked-back long hair, topped off with his thick-lipped perma-frown as if Tommy Wiseau was dosed with Joker products from “Batman.”

Revenge For Jolly

Harry finds brief relief from wayward cousin Cecil (Oscar Isaac, why?), who encourages Harry’s plan to stockpile a small arsenal of weapons and find the guilty party. Each stop, populated by a bevy of respectable actors, plays out roughly the same. Harry and Cecil, already drunk and/or high, wave their guns around like idiots and demand answers, everyone makes irrelevant small-talk, guns are fired, and the two leave a stack of bodies behind. It was likely copied and pasted several times in the script: ‘HARRY walks out the door, leaving behind fresh corpses.’

Director Chadd Harbold must have added the extra “d” for deliberation, since his favorite directing tool seems to be the pregnant pause. Characters communicate as if they were in a David Lynch movie, and Harbold keeps the camera running to capture the unusual beats between sentences as if he were mining gold out of nothing. Except there’s nothing all that extraordinary about these characters or what they have to say. Elijah Wood’s bartender must produce the slowest service in town. Gillian Jacobs’ prostitute must only see two johns a day at most. It’s a way of giving a fresh spin to what are essentially revenge movie staples, but it doesn’t add substance, rather it subtracts, illuminating just how tiresome these characters can be.

The one promising moment is when Harry and Cecil find themselves at an after-hours law firm, where each shiny suited lawyer slowly walks out one-by-one to lecture the information-seeking stoners on why they should leave. First, “SNL” vet Bobby Moynihan emerges from a back room, then a long-haired Adam Brody, both dropping non-sequiturs and threats while Cecil reads a women’s health magazine, and Harry, in his default position, stares off into space. There’s a kernel of surreal inspiration to this idea of gaudy after-hours lawyers packing heat, though the head of the firm (the peerless David Rasche) emerges with none of the affectations of his co-workers, and another gory shootout occurs. Somehow this was all written, though it all seems improvised on the spot. Well, except for ‘HARRY walks out the door, leaving behind fresh corpses.’  

Revenge For Jolly

Their bloody rampage, which at no point involves cops, eventually takes the duo to a wedding, providing the film’s violent climax though it’s clear all scenes could be re-edited together in just about any fashion. Here, Kristen Wiig, coming off an Oscar nomination for “Bridesmaids,” is degraded by being put in a wedding dress, having her posterior spanked by Garret Dillahunt, getting to shout non-comedic obscenities and having a couple of teeth punched out of her mouth. Kevin Corrigan gets the only laugh of the movie during a rambling drunken wedding speech, and it is an oasis in the desert. 

The Tribeca press pack promises “there is never a dull moment” in “Revenge For Jolly!” which seems to be a new definition of the word “dull.” There are three types of scenes in this film, alternating between each other like a nightmarish merry-go-round. One involves lots of quick cuts, screaming and vulgarity. Another involves shared gunfire, mostly emerging from actors who appear to have never held a gun before. And the third, and most common, involves long silences of characters standing around, seemingly occupying dead space as if they were given no direction, no motivation, and no character to play, which seems somewhat accurate when observing the finished product. That last one? Yeah, sure sounds like dull to me. [F]

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  • Dan Berk, Producer | January 8, 2014 10:23 AMReply

    btw- it was my idea to cast Oscar Issac in the movie; and now he's gone on to be a star. of course he'll remember me.

    But just in case he doesn't, I was the guy who always wore really cool matching tennis outfits on set every day. and it was my parents who fronted me the cash so I could be exec producer on the film. Oscar remembers me.

  • Rand0m411 | May 18, 2013 1:23 AMReply

    Movie was great, ending was shit and a cop out.

  • AN END TO THE HATERS | April 16, 2013 9:37 AMReply

    All right all you HATERS who have been posting evil comments about Revenge For Jolly -- it's time to give it a rest once and for all -- b/c REVENGE FOR JOLLY is re-submitting itself into this year's (2013) Tribeca Film Festival !!!!!!!!!!!!!! But THIS time will be much much different. The world will finally see the true talent of Chadd Harbold's directing and the super-duper-abilities of the entire crew.

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  • SHIRLEY FROM "GOOD TIMES" | November 7, 2012 10:29 PM

    An even more important fact to know when dealing with these top forex brokers is that they all have these incredibly tiny penises.

  • Janet B. | October 8, 2012 9:14 PMReply

    i was told i would love this film and not only did i not love this film, but i'm a bit insulted b/c it was so utterly boring and poorly crafted.

  • say matt | September 14, 2012 4:34 AMReply

    Yeah. The guy definitely has his own flavour. His old short films are pretty amazing. I wasn't at Tribeca, but was told I would love this film.

  • Feels Like Doomsday | July 11, 2012 5:54 PMReply

    Just read that Kristen is in a new relationship. Hopefully Brian P. will see the silver lining. He is a decent guy. It could be worse. At least he's not Tom Mapother Cruise. To Brian I would say -- Keep doin your thing, BP. You are funny and original and completely crazy in an awesome way. Sorry about the breakup. Keep doin funny films. Things will keep gettin better. All the Best.

  • H A T E D this crappy film | May 26, 2012 6:05 PMReply

    This film is barely worth taking the time to say -- complete crap.

  • MIKEY LIKES IT | May 24, 2012 3:53 AMReply

    "revenge for jolly" is easily in my top 10 for 2012. are you fucking joking? an F?!!! "A" plus, plus, plus. deadpan executed to perfection / existential brilliance from head to toe. kudos to these guys. petsos is a madman. can't wait to see what's next. fucking performances kill kill kill. photography is delectable. fuck yes. i'm sorry, but this review is a terrible insult...

  • Walt Disney | May 5, 2012 10:54 PMReply

    How 'bout "Meth Head" for 2012 Best Stoner Cult Film.

  • Bobby Bradley | May 5, 2012 9:27 PMReply

    granted we were a few edibles deep.. but me and my whole crew laughed ourselves to tears when we saw this @tff

    the critics shat all over Supertroopers too and it only made it that much funnier

    2012 best stoner cult film: jolly

  • Booby | May 6, 2012 3:27 PM

    Guys who (are not part of the NASA space program and yet who) use the term 'crew' as in " and my whole crew laughed ourselves to tears..." are actually either really really deuschy guys OR chicks posing as deuschy guys. and my whole crew laughed ourselves to tears...

  • LISA LAMPANELLI'S TOILET | April 30, 2012 3:38 PMReply

    Look, Jolly people, you're project is floating around the basin. I've been dumped on by the best, I've been bombed upon, I know how it feels, and what didn't kill me has only made me stronger. Right now, you're smelling the stink and tasting the poo. But the good news is... After the stench passes, you'll come back with humility, and down the road you'll hopefully come up with some truly memorable projects in which you've earned respect through sweat and toil and (again) hopefully a bit of luck. Think of your careers as a marathon rather than a sprint.

  • LISA LAMPANELLI'S TOILET | April 30, 2012 3:38 PMReply

    Look, Jolly people, you're project is floating around the basin. I've been dumped on by the best, I've been bombed upon, I know how it feels, and what didn't kill me has only made me stronger. Right now, you're smelling the stink and tasting the poo. But the good news is... After the stench passes, you'll come back with humility, and down the road you'll hopefully come up with some truly memorable projects in which you've earned respect through sweat and toil and (again) hopefully a bit of luck. Think of your careers as a marathon rather than a sprint.

  • Toilet (addendum) | April 30, 2012 3:49 PM

    Sorry about the repeat post, but Lisa has many toilets in her mansions, so I was speaking collectively for all her toilets.

  • mister mellow | April 30, 2012 1:45 PMReply

    OMG what's wrong with you people.. the comments on this blog are really funny.... i loved this movie and so did the group i was with, but i'm not a critic thank god

  • Truth Meter | April 30, 2012 11:55 AMReply

    Dear Jenny,

    Your post plays like a self-serving and contrived, albeit very well written, press release for Jolly. It's actually 'preposerous and shameful' that the Jolly team didn't put this type of focus and planning into the production, such as pinning down SPECIFICS of filmmaking. For example, tempo-rhythm. (Jolly flatlines.) How about rising action and mounting obstacles for the characters to overcome while in pursuit of objectives. (no rising action for 2nd half of film.) How 'bout provocative ideas and questions that the film leaves in the minds of the audience? hmm. In order to be Hollywood's next hot young team, you really have to have more to offer than press releases and a huge sense of entitlement. You have got to put in the work.

  • TRUTH METER | May 5, 2012 11:17 PM

    Bobby, Just cuz i can articulate film specifics doesn't mean i went to film school; it simply means i have a little pee pee.

  • Bobby Bradley | May 5, 2012 9:38 PM

    Dear Truth Meter, Chill the fckout...For example, this isn't film school. (Stop being an industry dbag.)

  • tommy wiseau | April 30, 2012 1:41 AMReply

    Bitch stole my look.

  • JENNY WITH THE CHALK | April 30, 2012 12:05 AMReply

    This review is preposterous and shameful. Flew in to see a handful of films at this year's Tribeca Film Fest for work. There were several disappointments, and I'm not going to name them here. But apparently this embittered quasi-critic wasn't in the same screenings as I was. Yes, I saw this film twice, and it's easily one of my favorites of this year's TFF. The crowd reaction was over the top in both screenings I went to, one of them last night. Laughter was constant. Applause followed the end. A colleague of mine says they made this film on a budget, and I'll say that I could see that. But the acting from the entire cast was tremendous, and I'll say that I've never seen comedy presented like this. It was dry, and subtle. It was spare, and dark. And it was violent. It was very violent. But not in a glossy, action-movie way. And from a view atop the hill, it has to be one of the most absurd film's I've seen in years. I'm sure it's going to fly over the heads of moviegoers who are looking for the slickness of a Tarantino film. This is not that kind of a film. I can list playwrights, and screenwriters for that matter, both dead and alive, that would eat this stuff up, but you should know them. I feel sort of guilty liking this film as a woman. Admittedly there are some misogynistic moments. But I'm convinced that Chadd Harbold is making some kind of commentary there, and about the pointlessness of all of the steadily growing violence that springs up on the boozy road trip that Harry (Brian Petsos, also wrote the film) and Cecil (the steadily rising Oscar Isaac) take to find the guy they're looking for. A guy who killed a microscopic lap dog! A tiny 3 lb. mini doberman! And I don't want to spoil the ending, but the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the revenge? Well, I'm not sure it's ever achieved after all, after all the drinking, driving, shooting and killing. Sounds like the American dream to me. Or is it the American Nightmare? Definitely see this film when it's available in wide release.

  • GHOST OF PETER SELLERS | April 30, 2012 2:28 PM

    What the hell were these wannabe filmmakers thinking? I'm literally rolling over in my grave...I haven't said this in years, but I need a drink... Someone pls pour some champagne over my tombstone.

  • FaKe Ron Burgandy | April 28, 2012 11:50 PMReply

    The review NAILS the truth like Mel Gibson nails KuRAZY in interviews, police stops, and secret videotape recordings.

  • I'm that guy | April 23, 2012 5:20 PMReply

    I agree i'd like to see a 20min edit of this..... BUT! This movie would have been a decent short film at best.

    Editing could only do so much. You could tell the story much much much faster but still. nothing happens. "There are three types of scenes in this film, alternating between each other like a nightmarish merry-go-round." there for. a shorter edit wouldn't help this issue, but at least the word excruciating doesn't open the review. :/ But BLAH is right. it all starts with a good WRITER not an actor... Whomever the HACK is that called the shots on the final edit should should be brought to the front with the negativity.

  • (THE FAKE) SAM L.... | April 23, 2012 5:42 PM

    Okay, this person makes sense to me, especially the final sentence, as I agree 100%, and the part about the writing - the writer sets up the obstacles and the actor, with life/death stakes in mind, tries to overcome the obstacles - writing 101. So I guess we have to blame the Director? At least the Director, Chadd (with 2 D's), will have a place to use those 2 Ds while thinking long and hard about where he fell short on this project-- while he serves me my morning coffee at Dunkin Donuts.

  • (The Fake) Sam L. Jackson, Actor, Director, Producer | April 23, 2012 5:02 PMReply

    In ANY event, let's just assume that this project is no different than any other, whereupon an eager and ambitious group of elitist, silver-spooned recent college grads turned 'artsy' hipsters get ahold of some equipment, induce about 15 people to finance them "Hey, Lets all make a movie!" and then do their best to make a 'totally original' movie: actually they end up ripping off all the wrong stuff from Tarantino and, again with more rip offs, this time misunderstand how the Great Louis C.K.does his own editing, and attempt to do their own special brand of editing...and the result -- The Emperor's New Clothes.

  • I'm that guy | April 23, 2012 5:21 PM

    Here!!! here!!

  • Duh | April 23, 2012 1:28 PMReply

    According to Google Brian Petsos is Kristen Wiig's boyfriend, so I'm betting he didn't have to resort to "blackmail, extortion and/or just plain bribery." Finally, we know the answer to the age old question, Who do I have to @#!* to get a movie made?

  • Really Really Simple Guy | April 23, 2012 5:52 PM

    Um..Kristin Wiig?

  • DAN B. | April 23, 2012 11:25 AMReply

    Dear Blah, I was not an actor on this project. Try associate PRODUCER. They should have listened to my feedback regarding editing...

  • REALLY REALLY SIMPLE GUY | April 23, 2012 8:54 PM

    Aw...suck it up, buttercup.

  • Bobby | April 23, 2012 12:25 PM

    Hey 'Dan', a/k/a 'Judas,' Didn't you mean to say "'Executive' Producer?"

  • Blah | April 23, 2012 12:37 AMReply

    People overrate the intelligence of actors. Having worked on film sets with a good variety of them they don't exactly understand what makes a good movie.

  • Dan B. | April 22, 2012 6:00 PMReply

    If only they'd listened to me...

  • cristy | April 22, 2012 5:44 PMReply

    Well, Kristen Wiig has been in a relationship with Brian Petsos for some time now, so that's probably why she's in the movie...

  • Andrew 'the Diceman' | April 23, 2012 10:11 PM

    Thank you, "Christy." So, um, Christy, would you describe Brian's junk as being closer to a falafel or an egg-roll? btw-tremendous job in "Bridesmaids."

  • Stan B. | April 22, 2012 4:57 PMReply

    Wonderfully accurate and although brutally honest, review of 'Jolly.' Everything spoken about in the review reflects sophomoric deficiencies in the film (is it too late in the game to consider re-editing - immediately!!!). But the law firm scene was worth sufffering through the (unintentional) awkward pauses.

  • Y. Johnny | April 22, 2012 3:38 PMReply

    Tommy Wiseau is officially on notice. There's a new sheriff in town.

  • Rich | April 22, 2012 2:55 PMReply

    Oh my god. The talent dept should be shot for this.

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