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Otis
DVD disk
06.27.2008 By: Johnny Moreno
Otis order
Director:
Tony Krantz

Actors:
Bostin Christopher
Daniel Stern
Illeana Douglas

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
40 year old pizza delivery boy, Otis, is trying to get by in life and looking for love. Otis’ methods in finding love include abduction and torture. What? You’re any better?
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I’ll just start things right off here by saying that I didn’t like OTIS…..I loved it! What started out with a deeply disturbing torture scene in an elaborate yet practical torture room (there’s something to say for being a frugal and sadistic psychopath), quickly morphed into a ball of horror, satire and comedy. It was like taking three different colors of clay, mashing them together, rolling it into a ball and watching the kaleidoscopic array go from three separate colors, to a conjoined ball that makes a whole new color. Amazing? No. But pretty original and overall, fucking funny! To say that the movie balances horror and comedy well would be an understatement; it does much more than that. I think that educated audiences of “black comedies” (as in Otis or Bad Santa, not Friday) understand the whole “should I be laughing at this” vibe in movies, but what Otis does is start out with the juxtaposition of horror and comedy and as the story progresses, weaves them together until you’re laughing out loud at somebody getting a hot curling iron put into their mouth and you don’t feel the least bit guilty about it. Not unlike the time when you did the same to Nana and told her it would give her more oxygen.

The story itself will drive you full speed to its destination if you’re willing to take the ride and by the time the first half hour is over, you should know whether or not if the ride is worth taking. There isn’t one part of the movie that seems out of place or illogical in this world; it all makes sense. That’s due to the writing, which is polished, the razor sharp dialogue and the fully realized characters that, on some level, are totally relatable. You know these people. The typical, modern suburban family complete with a fuck-up little brother, the perfect angel daughter and an emasculated Dad and emasculating Mom. Which brings us to the performances.

The whole premise of the movie, obviously, is built around Otis. Otis is an ASS. A bumbling, clumsy ass. But were it not for the performance of Bostin Christopher, I don’t think this movie could survive. He plays Otis brilliantly as psychotic and menacing and equally as brilliant if not more important, vulnerable. Dare I say, he makes a pedophile come off as sweet. That doesn’t mean I’m some liberal creep ready to petition my governor to pardon all the criminals locked up, but without Otis being vulnerable, the movie just wouldn’t be funny. Daniel Stern as the father of the kidnapped girl reminded me a lot of his character in Very Bad Things and also reminded me: where the hell has he been? He’s one of the great, comedic “straight men” working today. The always lovely, and I do mean LOVELY, Illeana Douglas has graduated into “Mom” type roles now but what she does with the character is what you would expect from her and more. In Otis she comes off as quirky, tough and most of all hilarious. Not the typical Mom role, but Douglas doesn’t normally partake in typical roles. The little brother played by Jared Kusnitz was the perfect pain in the ass little brother and the kidnapped “Kim”, played by Ashley Johnson (the little girl from Growing Pains), made me hurt for her. Ashley’s performance is very “real” and also very subtle, even when she’s getting punched in the face. I think another actress might’ve had a different take on where to go with the character but Ashley played it perfectly. And the show stealer would have to be the FBI Agent played by Jere Burns. From the first scene he was in, the fucker had me rolling. There’s also a little nod (whether deliberate or not) to Pulp Fiction which I enjoyed.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary with director Tony Krantz and writer Erik Jendresen: Very dry commentary track, though informative as hell. Since I’m a huge fan of satire, it was really interesting to hear the different elements of satire they utilized. Some I was aware of, some I wasn’t. Good stuff.

The Twisted World of Otis featurette: Basically gives you the genesis of the story came to be and how on a limited budget, a cast with big names got attached. A very good featurette, I must say.

Alternate Ending: The Birthday Party. It would be hard to describe the scene without spoiling anything but since I loved the movie, I wanted more of it and this didn’t disappoint. I can’t decide which ending I like better but I will give this one an edge due to Illeana Douglas being in a bra. I love that woman. Optional commentary on this track.

Short Film: Suite 16 Earlier when I said Otis was an ass, this proves it. During the movie, Otis has “Kim” watch a movie. This is that movie. Hilarious in so many ways.

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FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Obviously, I love this movie and can’t say enough good things about it. You can keep your Iron Mans’, and your Hulks’, and your dumb, old Indiana Jones because I’ll take Otis and his awful stained t-shirts any day of the week. My favorite movie of the year so far (well, last year really since it came out in ‘07).
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