Hacks (review)

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Imagine if Christopher Guest had all sense of compassion excised and saw fit to remove his frontal lobe — you know, the area of the brain that prevents us from doing and saying every damn outrageous thing that crosses our minds. Then he might make a film like Hacks, a refreshingly aggressive and offensive mockumentary about which to say “it lacks a sense of political correctness” would be a massive understatement. Writer/director Glenn Rockowitz, in this demented “exposé” of the Diamond & Hutz comedy talent agency, dares to be vulgar to a point beyond that that mainstream audiences will tolerate, accustomed as they are to movies with no teeth and the deliberate intent to be as inoffensive as possible even when they’re wallowing in crudity. This isn’t unthinking Meet the Parentsstyle “humor,” which hopes you will avoid activating your brain while you’re being grossed out; Rockowitz introduces us to an array of awful standup comics and their racist, sexist, moronic “humor” hoping precisely that we will think about combative feminists, militant homeboys, self-hating nebbishes, and the terminally ignorant, as well as the general narcissism of entertainers (though the term “entertainers” must necessarily be used loosely here — the best thing these standups could do would be to sit down) and the entertainment industry, which regularly confuses idiocy with deep thought. All the extras — including 40 minutes of deleted scenes and “How to Break Into Stand-up Comedy” by “Arty Hittle, comedy coach,” a hilarious parody of how-to videos — almost double the film’s running time. This is one of the first films from FilmThreat’s new DVD line of otherwise undistributed indie films, and if Hacks is representative of what’s to come, this will be a most welcome service.

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