But Genuinely Funny;
And With Heart To Match.
If ever there was a film made just for me to review, I found it today. And yes, full disclosure, it’s because I’m one of THOSE people.
Turns out, those people (Juggalos, I mean) cover all walks of life and aren’t limited to whatever awful images you have in your mind when you hear that word. Yes, some are every bit as trashy as you assume we all are, but such could be said for any cultural subset. Juggalos are no different from any other group in that respect. We just embrace our inner freaks and refuse to accept shame in trade. Yes, we like crazy stabby music, but honestly, give me that over cookie cutter radio rap any and every day of the week. And for the record, I only ever painted my face twice in twenty years. Partially out of laziness, but mostly because it stung my eyes once my head was drenched in Faygo.
This movie doesn’t revolve around Juggalos though, which is good because that would be entirely too limiting. Instead, it uses the Juggalo community to bookend the narrative and frame a story about a preteen girl too awkward for her own walk of life, but just the right amount of weird for ours. Her aunt, Kate (Taylor Schilling) is a work-obsessed hedge fund executive who is roped into watching her while the brother she struggles to connect with has to tend to an emergency. Over the course of five days and a few familiar acts, they connect and Kate finds herself through connections she couldn’t previously make.
If the plot sounds vaguely familiar, there’s a reason. It works as a sort of dual coming-of-age tale for both aunt and niece, but thw face paint freshens things up a bit. Plus, I can only imagine the looks on the faces of middle aged moviegoers who stumble into this with no understanding of Juggalos or the Insane Clown Posse. Just like the concerts I frequented for years, the film is peppered with quirk and oddly undeniable charm, despite an overall predictability factor.
Taylor Schilling does a great job and works with the script to produce some genuine laughs, even if they aren’t the wipe-your-eyes-and-catch-your-breath kind. The humor hits because it is real and honest. Kate McKinnon plays a suburban watchdog mom with her eye on everyone and an affinity for yoga pants, adding star power to the comedy side of things. Also, Brian Tyree Henry plays a supporting role, which is literally never a bad thing.
Now, I must say, having been to several Gathering of the Juggalos events, the third act stretches believability a bit. The GOTJ is held annually in campgrounds far from civilization (because society prefers us hidden), so the notion that parents could just pop in looking for their kid is a reach, but a forgivable pne since it produces some of the best scenes in the movie, from the perspectives of both humor and emotion. But that and a well-worn arc (complete with a montage of bonding moments!) were my only gripes.
The film has its heart in the right place. Be good to each other and live free of judgment. Be you, no matter how weird, and let other people come to terms with it on their own. Nobody is perfect, and trying to be will only highlight imperfection and bring you down. What matters most is family, by whatever definition suits you.
Lastly, for the Juggalos who may read this: the movie does well by us. We aren’t mocked or milked for laughs, and our better nature turns out to be a key factor in a late scene. The end credits even have some Juggalo interviews. And, interestingly enough, I assumed ICP would be credited as “Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope” as themselves, but instead their real names are given as “MC 1 and MC 2,” which made me laugh for some reason. Maybe using their real names was part of the deal to get their SAG cards when they made Big Money Hustlas? Yes, I’m aware most of you have no clue what I’m talking about. Oh, and as for the soundtrack, the very first thing you hear when the lights go down is In Yo Face, and later in the film you hear some of Miracles, Chop! Chop! (I was thrilled with that selection) and I Get Mad. Whoop whoop!
Family is Written and Directed By Laura Steinel
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