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posted: 10/3/2013 6:00 AM

'Bad Milo' takes theater of the absurd to the extreme

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  • Duncan (Ken Marino) bonds with a protective polyp from his intestines in the silly, absurd horror comedy "Bad Milo."

      Duncan (Ken Marino) bonds with a protective polyp from his intestines in the silly, absurd horror comedy "Bad Milo."

  • Video: "Bad Milo" trailer

 
 

Mini-review: "Bad Milo"

Theater of the absurd usually works better in an actual live theater than it does in the more literal medium of motion pictures.

Such is the case with Jacob Vaughn's black comedy "Bad Milo," something of a deadpan extension of David Cronenberg's 1979 horror tale "The Brood," in which Samantha Eggar gives birth to murderous mutant offspring who kill people who bother her.

This story centers around a milquetoast guy named Duncan (Ken Marino), stuck working for a corrupt and coercive boss (a role perfect for Patrick Warburton) who puts him charge of layoffs because he's such a "nice guy."

Duncan's wife (Gillian Jacobs) also appears to be nice, but she's pushy. Not as bad as Duncan's obnoxious mother (Mary Kay Place), a public embarrassment when she's out with her new zero-charisma hubby (Stephen Root).

Duncan cracks under the pressure. And from his crack comes a demonic gnome, part whimsical mogwai, part Chucky the killer doll. This creature from Preparation H goes about violently slaughtering people who have annoyed its host. Geysers of blood abound.

Duncan visits one of those shrinks who need a shrink more than he does (Peter Stormare) and he advises Duncan not to kill the creature from his bowels.

"Bond with it!" the shrink implores, pointing out that the pugnacious polyp is a metaphor.

So, Duncan names it Milo and tries to treat it like a cheaply engineered E.T. knock-off. That doesn't really help.

Wisely, Vaughn directs "Bad Milo" with a straight-faced intensity that tries to undercut his movie's strained juvenile humor quotient. But the extreme cartoony facade he constructs fails to attain the level of wit and cleverness this project needs to carry it through its silly, exploitative paces.

Except for the premise of human anxiety creating organic instruments of wrath and revenge (should Cronenberg sue?), "Bad Milo" is just a pain from the posterior.

"Bad Milo" opens at the Music Box in Chicago. Rated R for language, sexual situations, gore and graphic violence. 85 minutes. ★

Creep me out!

Just in time for Halloween! Join me and film historian Raymond Benson as Dann & Raymond's Movie Club presents "Creep Show: The Films of Stephen King."Clips from such features as "Carrie," "The Shining," "The Green Mile," "The Mist," "Christine," "The Dead Zone," plus others. It starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, 500 N. Dunton Ave., Arlington Heights. Free admission. Go to ahml.info for details.

Film notes

• New York's zany Found Footage Festival comes to Chicago's Music Box Theatre this weekend for a one-time event, "Best of the Midwest," a collection of strange video clips from VHS tapes found in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. One clip reportedly comes from Wheaton resident Jan Terri.

"Wild Chicago" host Ben Hollis will introduce the fest at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Music Box, 3733 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. Tickets cost $13. Go to musicboxtheatre.com.

• The opening night gala for the 49th annual Chicago International Film Festival begins at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, with a red carpet greeting at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., for director James Gray. His film "The Immigrant," starring Marion Cotillard, will open the festival, dedicated to the late Chicago film critic Roger Ebert.

Local alert: John Rangel's drama "The Girls on Liberty Street," shot in Aurora, runs Oct. 12, 14 and 15. It's the story of a suburban teen about to go into the military. Go to chicagofilmfestival.com for a schedule and ticket information.

• The original "Ghostbusters," starring Chicagoans Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, will be shown for free at 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Woodstock Theater, 209 Main St., Woodstock. See this one more time on the silver screen the way it was meant to be seen. Go to classiccinema.com.

• "Metallica Through the Never" expands to regular theaters this weekend after opening exclusively at IMAX houses last week. The 3-D fantasy musical used up to 24 cameras in a single setup. Go to throughthenevermovie.com.

• The After Hours Film Society presents "In a World..." at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7, at the Tivoli Theatre, 5021 Highland Ave., Downers Grove. Lake Bell writes, directs and stars as the daughter of a famous voice-over movie announcer attempting to make her own mark in the male-dominated business. General admission is $9. Go to afterhoursfilmsociety.com.

• What took so long? The city of Chicago hosts its first "film summit" on Oct. 20, mounted for the purpose of getting the Chicago-area community together to brainstorm about how to best fund, cast, distribute and promote the local movie industry. "Man of Steel" actor Michael Shannon might even attend. Go to chicagofilmandmediasummit.org.

Daily Herald Film Critic Dann Gire's column runs Fridays in Time out!

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