Last night at the 2012 Milwaukee Film Festival, I was in attendance for the Milwaukee premiere of 3,2,1… Frankie Go Boom starring Charlie Hunnam, Lizzy Caplan, and Chris O’Dowd. Relying on familiar faces to carry the rather weak and unfocused script to the screen, the film ended up lacking the laughs and the character development that it so desperately needed.
When we are first introduced to Frank (Charlie Hunnam), he is living in a too-small-for-comfort trailer out in the middle of the desert. He is alone and clearly wants to be that way for good reason. Frank has always been tortured and humiliated by his older brother Bruce (Chris O’Dowd) ever since they were kids. Frank’s humiliation was captured on Bruce’s home video camera. You would think this was just a childhood phase, but you thought wrong. As technology has changed since their childhood, there’s now more ways of Frank being unexpectedly caught on camera as a subject of Bruce’s home movies and there’s no way of stopping him. On one of the worst days of his life, his wedding day, he was filmed throwing up on his cheating wife. The embarrassing video was posted online and was viewed by millions of people. When Frank unwillingly goes back home, he is dragged to Bruce’s AA graduation ceremony. While reunited with his parents and Bruce, he is reminded as to why he has been trying to stay as far away from them as possible. During that same night, Lassie (Lizzy Caplan) unexpectedly crashes into Frank while riding her bike under the influence. Feeling very vulnerable after witnessing her boyfriend cheating on her, Lassie and Frank have an awkward one-night stand. Even though their night together was awkward and troublesome for Frank, there was an intimate connection between them. The next day, Frank quickly finds out that Bruce recorded them the entire night and has already made a copy of it. Thus begins a chaotic journey to retrieve the sex tape. The film also stars Ron Perlman, Whitney Cummings, and Chris Noth.
Judging from the trailer that premiered awhile back, it seemed that this film would be hilarious and strange. While it was certainly strange, it sure didn’t pack a comedic punch. Beyond the couple of chuckle-worthy moments, the film was more of a comedic bore. Most of the actors in the film did put on a strong effort with the material they were given to attempt to make a solid piece of entertainment but the result wasn’t something to be keen on. I usually appreciate films that are strange and different, but I personally felt that this film tried way too hard that it eventually felt phony to me. It’s unfortunate that lead actor Charlie Hunnam gave a stale performance as Frank. Usually Hunnam is pretty good, if you have seen his performance in Sons of Anarchy. In this film, he acts against usual form with unconvincing results. If it weren’t for the performances of Ron Perlman as an ex-convict drag queen named Phyllis, Chris O’Dowd as the douchebag Bruce, and Lizzy Caplan as the vulnerable Lassie, this film would only be worth a rental at the nearest Red Box.
Mixing autobiographical elements in the film, writer/director Jordan Roberts struggles to keep his focus on the two different story dynamics that are at play in the film. First, there’s the dynamic of Frank and Lassie’s intimate connection. The other dynamic is the frustrating relationship between Frank and Bruce. While having both of those dynamics could work very well, it seemed to me that both of them seem too underdeveloped to work. I never got a sense of the connection between Frank and Lassie. It wasn’t due to a lack of chemistry; it was due to the fact that both characters were criminally underdeveloped. After the film, Jordan Roberts revealed that his vision of the film was more of a love story. After watching the film, I didn’t get a strong sense that it was a love story. Instead of focusing on Frank and Lassie’s connection, the film focused more on Frank and Bruce’s journey to find the DVD of Frank and Lassie’s one night stand just so that Lassie wouldn’t get upset. If Jordan Roberts focused more on the relationship between Frank and Lassie or further explored the relationship between Frankie and Bruce, the film could’ve been much more focused and narratively stronger.
Truth be told, I really didn’t know what to expect from 3,2,1… Frankie Go Boom when walking into the theatre because I wasn’t familiar with Jordan Robert’s previous work. After watching the trailer, I guess you could say that I was expecting to at least be entertained by the bizarre plot that was promised and actually laugh more times than I actually did. What I didn’t expect was to walk out extremely disappointed with the execution.
3,2,1… Frankie Go Boom – 4/10