Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy ★½

Ron Howard’s A F*ck Ugly Mind.

Hillbilly Eggo is a movie released in 2020 and was written by Lightning McQueen and directed by that one kid from American Graffiti. It stars Cruella de Vil and the Enchanted girl and tells the story of some guy named J.D Vance and about how wacky his family was. I want to start off this review by addressing that yes, I did not like this film one bit and there was only a pinch of attributes that made it even the slightest bit creative. But I do not think that has anything to do with Amy Adams or Glenn Close. They are obviously the best aspects of the movie and, even though they deliver performances that are far from their best, they are still pretty decent throughout. And, contrary to popular belief, I also do not believe that this film’s awfulness is Ron Howard's fault. Even though I don’t love him as a director and think most of his movies are bland, he seems like a really nice guy who didn’t cause this movie to fail. No. The titular reason this film fails as a fulfilling biopic, an emotionally driven family drama, an ensemble piece, and as a film as a whole is because of the script. I am gonna be as blunt as possible about this; the script is bad. It’s crap. It’s not good. It’s disappointing. It’s offensive. It’s cheesy. It’s overbearing. It’s unaware. It has competition for one of the worst scripts of the entire year. And even though I knew nothing about J.D. Vance before or after I watched this on my goddamn phone, I could tell that it didn’t successfully portray his family life in an accurate way. It tries to be complex and interesting by committing to things like telling the story non-linearly and showcasing different parts of Vance’s life, but it ultimately makes the film unbearably familiar and pretentious. This way of storytelling makes the movie feel way too long than it is because it’s essentially the same instance done over a million times. It usually starts with J.D. getting mad at one of his family members over the fact that they're an unstable and controlling family to stay with, them teaching him a lesson that he applies to his present life as an adult, and then showcasing the aftermath of that event. This is a common cycle throughout, and I think that’s the main reason why this film fails marvelously as a story trying to display a real person’s personal life. I bet J.D. Vance deserves to have a feature-length film adaptation of his book by the same name, but if it was done with more of an understanding of how to actually make a good movie, then we may have had something, well, not terrible on our hands. It tries so very hard to be a politically relevant and emotional experience but forgets about the fundamentals of how to actually accomplish those goals. It’s so offensive given the fact that it was clearly made just to get Amy Adams and Glenn Close some nominations and possible wins at the Academy Awards. And if I was being extremely generous, I would say that I would be perfectly fine if they got nominated. Obviously, they won’t win, which I’m glad about, but if they at least get nominated, that wouldn’t be entirely shocking. But if anything else in this film weirdly gets recognition, I’ll be more than annoyed. Not only does this movie not deserve any sort of attention, but it’ll be truly announcing the Oscars as a ceremony that really doesn’t try to recognize award-worthy art. And in my opinion, it should most definitely be recognized at the Razzies.

Filmmaking wise, this film is at war with itself. The atrocious editing feels clunky and all over the place. It feels like it’s trying to be noticeable to appear like it’s representing the chaos involved in the movie’s story. But ironically enough, it actually drains those few moments of any substance or hidden meaning they may have possessed. The direction is bland at best and messy and annoyingly tedious at worst. The actors are decent but do little to enhance the screenplay’s awfully written dialogue and nauseating narration. I know I’m ending this review off short, but if I’m being totally sincere, I really don’t want to waste my time writing another paragraph on why this movie is so underwhelming. But I do want to send off with a final statement. Have any of you ever heard the metaphor “you can’t polish a turd”? It seems like a funny sentence without much meaning, but I think it perfectly encapsulates the impact of this movie overall. Both Howard and the actors try their absolute best to improve from the script. They are trying to make this movie somewhat successful, and I can’t stop saying this, but they do their best. But the screenplay is simply a turd. And like the statement says; you can never improve it. Which is one of the most saddest and upsetting things I’ve had to say about a new release.

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