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With: Zack Ward, Dave Foley, Chris Coppola, Jackie Tohn, J.K. Simmons, Ralf Moeller, Verne Troyer, Chris Spencer, Larry Thomas, Michael Paré, Erick Avari, Lindsay Hollister, Brent Mendenhall, Rick Hoffman, Michael Benyaer, David Huddleston, Seymour Cassel, Uwe Boll, Vince Desiderio, Michaela Mann, Holly Eglington, Lucie Guest, Jonathan Bruce, Carrie Genzel, Geoff Gustafson, Daniel Boileau, Samir El Sharkawi, Jason Emanuel, Melanie Papalia, Jodie Stewart, Derek Anderson, Heather Feeney, Marlaina Stewartt, Michael Robinson, Bill Mondy, Zachary Webb, William Veroni, Colin Foo, Christine Lippa, Mark Brandon, Myfanwy Meilen, Helena Yea, Reese Alexander, Steffen Mennekes, Michael Shore, Richard Ian Cox, Mike Dopud, Ed Anders, Mike Antonakos, Michael Eklund, Tony Alcantar, David Adams, Robert Clarke, Paulino Nunes, Merik Tadros, Richard Faraci, Bryan C. Knight, David Ward, Patrick Bahrich, Daniel Clarke, Lorielle New, Julia Sandberg Hansson, Brock Johnson, Nicolette Bujdos, Brandie Coe, Doris Blomgren
Written by: Uwe Boll, Bryan C. Knight
Directed by: Uwe Boll
MPAA Rating: R for extremely crude humor throughout, including strong sexuality, graphic nudity, violence, and for pervasive language and some drug use
Running Time: 100
Date: 07/21/2007

Postal (2008)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Offend in Every Way

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The more I see of Uwe Boll's films, the more I'm convinced he's a performance artist rather than a bad filmmaker. In Postal, he appears as himself, pimping a German theme park (complete with Nazi imagery) and saying insane things, such as that his films are funded by Nazi gold ("it has to be spent somewhere."). Just then, the creator of the "Postal" video game jumps on the stage and attacks Boll, accusing him of ruining his game. Now, this scene was shot before the film Postal was finished and before anyone could see it. So Boll was not only anticipating the film's negative response, but was most likely cultivating it. (Postal was originally scheduled to open last weekend in 1500 theaters, but somebody cancelled and the film only opened in five. This week San Francisco's Roxie Cinema joins them.)

At its center, Postal is meant to offend as many people as possible. It has vile jokes about fat people, gay people, African Americans, Democrats, Republicans, women, Asians, Jewish people, Arabs, little people, developmentally disabled people, cops, dogs, and just about anyone or anything else held sacred. It has more foul language than seems reasonable (the "f-bomb" turns up wedged into sentences that don't seem to want it). I guess you could call it a "satire," but it doesn't particularly care to take the time or energy to spin the satire in any meaningful way; it merely thunders over all its ideas like a rabid elephant. The film reminded me of nothing less of John Waters' Pink Flamingos (1972), which I found nauseating the first and only time I tried to watch it. The point of each was not to be a coherent film, but simply to celebrate the idea of bad taste.

Zack Ward (the bully from A Christmas Story) stars as "Dude," a jobless loser living in the town of Paradise. His severely overweight wife lives in a trailer and has sex with everyone except him and his dog defecates all over everything (and then eats it). Dude visits his Uncle Dave (Dave Foley), who runs a freaky religious cult, and sleeps with all the hot girls he can convert. Since they're both in need of money, Uncle Dave cooks up a scheme to break into the theme park, steal the world's only remaining shipment of Krotchy Dolls (a hot toy item) and sell them. Unfortunately, Osama bin Laden (Larry Thomas, speaking with an American accent) and members of Al Qaeda have the same idea at the same time. This results in a big, long chase and shootout involving the terrorists, the cult, the cops, and a gang of vigilantes. Lots of familiar faces turn up in small roles: Verne Troyer, J.K. Simmons, Michael Paré, Seymour Cassel, David Huddleston, etc.

Dude shoots everyone in sight while wearing a "peace" t-shirt, and then a blunder by George W. Bush (Brent Mendenhall) causes nuclear ("new-kew-lar") annihilation. Probably Boll's most radical satire suggests that Bush and Osama are friends and that they call each other all the time for favors. At the end of the film, they prance through a field, holding hands, while mushroom clouds spring up all around them.

To say that the violence is brutal and gratuitous doesn't really do it justice. Children get hit with bullets and fall down. A cop shoots a bad lady Asian driver. Boll himself is shot in the crotch. But to critique this by saying it's tasteless is beside the point. One could also say that it's stupid and not funny, but that's also beside the point. If there are any laughs at all, they don't come from cleverly constructed jokes, but from sheer shock. And I would argue that the film is not stupid, but actually very deliberately designed and executed. Ultimately, I have the same question for Postal as I did for its flip-side cousin United 93: why was it made? Both films left me feeling rather drained and uneasy, but for what purpose? Did I learn anything? Did I witness art? Or was it just another kind of spectacle?

Boll continues to fascinate me, and as far as bad filmmakers go, I would take one of his films over something by Michael Bay or Brett Ratner in a heartbeat. He's far more invested in his films, and they have become something personal, despite their lack of traditional skill. As Boll grows increasingly defensive and volatile in real life, so it goes that films like Postal reflect that. Right now I prefer Boll's bungled attempts at genre films, but perhaps time reveal Postal as his masterpiece. Postal{subid}&url=hitlist.asp?searchfield=marvel
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