April 21, 2005

Harry and Max – A Movie Review

A Groundbreaking and Shocking Tale Poorly Executed
By Fred H. ArmHarryandMax3AA.jpg
Profound statements attempt to resurrect this rather short and shoddy movie such as ''I don't have the keys to your prison, Mom,'' when Harry (Bryce Johnson), an early twenty-something pop star and aging member of a fading Los Angeles boy band, protests to his haunting, alienated mother (Michelle Phillips) in ''Harry and Max.'' That’s just one of the more brilliant proclamations that exemplifies this wanna-be soap opera of a movie that shockingly exposes the incestuous and pedophilic relationship between Harry and his 16-year-old brother, Max (Cole Williams). Blond and too delicately attractive, young Max is a pop star in his own right; as exemplified by having his face appear on the cover of Teen Bopper magazine.

There have been many groundbreaking movies, sweeping aside old taboos and sexual mores with so-so story lines. Yet this baby is in a class all of its own. Its convoluted psychobabble storyline defies all therapeutic logic and understanding. Its style is irritating and frustrating.

There is a brotherly camping trip in a kind of a family reunion theme between Harry and Max that takes up the entire first third of the movie, when the younger Max, who is mostly gay, throws himself at the bisexual, alcoholic Harry in his tent and the scenic countryside of the Santa Monica mountains. Harry resists since he is still suffering from being dumped by his mismatched girlfriend Nikki (Rain Phoenix), a drab and sullen young woman working in a LA nightclub.

As the scenes unfold, Harry comes to the realization that he is really in love with Max. Max, after the camping trip has for some unearthly reason seduced the willing Nikki. In the meantime, brother Harry outrageously puts moves on Josiah (Tom Gilroy), Max's 40-year-old yoga teacher, pedophile, and ex-lover. Yet, paradoxically the subject of pedophilia is barely touched upon.

There have been a plethora of films suggesting bizarre brotherly relationships in the past, however this turkey seems to throw it right into your face and it does so in a wholly chaotic fashion. After thirty or more minutes of this irritating celluloid aberration, I was hoping that even the 74-minute length would quickly be over.HarryandMax2AA.jpg

The other paradox is that screenwriter and director, Christopher Munch, has a respectable film history with such other films as ''The Sleepy Time Gal'' and ''The Hours and Times.'' The waste of talent further confounds me since Johnson and Williams exhibit a remarkable easiness and naturalness in their dysfunctional roles.

Nevertheless, this film audaciously flouts every taboo in the book and then some. This cinematic anomaly appears to carry the director’s personal calling in that it is much too allied with Munch's closet aspiration to be executed with any balance or perspective. The quirky ending also manages leaves one with a strange taste in the mouth. (No pun intended). Just prior to the end, the story suddenly jumps ahead two years culminating in a final brotherly confrontation, then abruptly ends with a brief spoken epilogue (by Max) that hangs you out to dry.

Posted by fredarm at April 21, 2005 05:47 PM