We like to take pride in providing our viewers with the widest array of film reviews. Yes, we like to check out the weekly blockbusters, but we find a lot of enjoyment in checking out indie films from upcoming filmmakers like Joe Benarick, director of the insanely mean-spirited comedy The Ultimate Ultimate. To say it has a particular audience would be an understatement, because The Ultimate Ultimate is a dark and honest film shot from the prospective of two bro’s that currently hate women and want to consume as much alcohol as humanly possible. There’s self-loathing, depression, drinking, partying and more drinking, all while swearing as much as possible and taking stabs at anyone that comes to mind. The Ultimate Ultimate has big balls and despite its flaws it works more often than not.
Joe (Joe Benarick) has just been dumped by his girlfriend (Brandy Whitford) and he’s running out of options and sanity. During a drunken rage or a typical Friday night, he decides to call up his friend Frank (Frank Aguirre). Together they talk about girls, life and what they need to do to get on the right track. Their answer is to use their awesome discount on a room at a motel in Deer Beach. Hopefully while visiting they can solve some issues, get extremely drunk and if the stars align; get laid.
The Ultimate Ultimate is the type of film that boldly and sometimes stupidly approaches everything very openly. The jokes come at you rapidly, with some of them sticking and some of them falling to the floor. Director (and writer/star) Joe Benarick is the main attraction of the film, with most of his lines providing just enough likability to counteract what he’s actually saying. It’s a confusing way to look at it, but his character is so damn mean and detestable, yet you’re mostly drawn to him in every scene. You want to see what Joe says and does, because you know it’s going to lead to another hilarious and probably awkward moment.
Timing is crucial for comedies and Benarick seems to understand that as an actor, but not so much as a director. The film struggles mainly in the supporting character field, with most of the actors, aside from Benarick and occasionally Aguirre, coming off as script readers. The dialogue is written well, but the delivery is cut to shreds whenever Benarick and Aguirre aren’t involved. It’s part of the independent game and I’m assuming budgetary restrictions are to blame for the lack of experience.
Frank Aguirre plays Joe’s best friend with a hefty amount of cockiness and attitude. Most of his interactions with Joe feel natural, but the character feels a little too pushy, which is odd because the film itself feels like a pushy and experimental black comedy that divides the true scumbags from the artificial ones. I have no problem admitting that I laughed at a handful of jokes, but there are a lot of jokes that don’t seem to fit in and most of those jokes are delivered by Aguirre.
The Ultimate Ultimate looks great for being such a small film. The opening credits are edited precisely and the camera shifts around and keeps things looking fresh and new for nearly the entire running time. Comedies have a tendency of being shot from one angle for 15 minutes and The Ultimate Ultimate doesn’t seem to have that problem. The sound design is front-heavy, but that doesn’t really factor into the film because it’s mostly dialogue-driven.
If I had any complaints about the film it would be the pacing and the structure. It starts out quickly and sets its goals clearly, but then it gets muddled and has troubles shifting from one location to the next. The structure is a little too loose; leaving you to question what exactly is the purpose of specific scenes. The dialogue is written with a straight-forward approach and the dark nature of its characters might turn some away, but for everyone else it will be a real treat.
The Ultimate Ultimate is a dark comedy with intentionally disgusting and offensive characters that are amusing to watch, because of just how angry they are. It has some rough edges, like its supporting actors and a lot of lines that feel forced in, underselling some of the funnier stuff, but even with its warts it comes out as a strong entry from a young and talented filmmaker. I’d like to think that director Joe Benarick worked in the restrictions of his budget and that if he is given more money to work with on his next project that he’ll be able to fix some of these minor problems.
The Ultimate Ultimate – 6.5/10