With such knowledgeable folk on the site I thought a list topic helping others remember the names of long forgotten…
Spanking the Monkey
A gripping comedy about letting go.
Raymond Aibelli is a promising pre-med student home briefly before leaving again for a prestigious summer internship. His plans however evaporate when his father insists he stay home to care for his mother who is recovering from a broken leg. There, he distracts himself with masturbation and lots of long walks, and even a half-hearted courtship of a much younger girl.
A fantastic example of that popular genre, incest..
Spanking the Monkey is David O Russell's astonishingly assured directorial debut. It's proudly independent in its look and feel, and unashamable in its quirkyness.
You could even say its a black comedy.
The fact is though, that it would be nothing without Jeremy Davies excellent lead performance, or O Russell's unnervingly assured direction.
It's a film too good for a title that bad.
Really really fucked, Mr O'Russell.
The essential mother-son bonding film.
One of those miracles of tone, perched precariously between drama and comedy, although perhaps most invested in being a total bummer--does this guy ever succeed at anything? I mean, he gets that scholarship and the Girl Next Door seems to adore him, but at no point in this film is our protag ever validated for his efforts--a camera style as unappreciative as his family. Russell seems to take the side of chaos whereas Ray takes a cautionary approach to stability, and most of the humor is generated from his futility & uselessness against obligation. Yet when we laugh it doesn't arise from the situation being inherently funny nor does it come from unnecessary stylistic punctuation--it's a very specific, almost gallows…
An offbeat beat off comedy.
What a terrible title.
Anyways, David O'Russell's first feature is a solid start, with Davies proving a good lead and his characters' parents relentless awfulness really pushing the whole thing to a level I wasn't expecting.
The cringiest of comedies. Painfully ’90s.
David O Russell's directorial debut saw a youthful Jeremy Davies coming home for the summer break from college, to care for his ailing mother while his father was on a work trip.
The film from 1994 certainly had a strong feel of that time period and reminded me a lot of Richard Linklater's debut "Slacker", perhaps the sensibility and the choice of clothing of that time.
The screenplay written by Russell himself was always going to raise eyebrows be it 1994 or 2014.
I thought Raymond, Davies' character is a raging young man who required to relive his urges routinely as we could see but what really turned him on to his own birth mother was immensely befuddling and yet…
Is this really a David O. Russell film? The theme of family disfunction, a Russell mainstay, is impossible to miss, but never again has he approached the theme in such a dark way as he does with his first feature film. The problem with this outing, however, lies in a lack of confidence in his tone. Where later films of his constantly swing back and forth between dark and dramatic to over the top and hysterical, Spanking the Monkey never really ventures far enough into either territory to work. It's almost as if he thought that going too far into one would detract from the other. There are some solid performances and some effective filmmaking techniques, but they are equally matched with the aforementioned tonal issues as well as some narrative shortcomings and holes.
I love comedies. I love incest. I love incest comedies. I did not enjoy this movie. Felt way too safe for my taste. But Russell is often hit or miss for me.
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
This was extremely weird, but I still somehow found it interesting...
An offbeat beat off comedy.
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