Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dark Horse

Time has passed by the hateful and deeply unfunny director Todd Solondz. The festering misanthropy of his debut feature, “Welcome to the Dollhouse,” has curdled and coagulated into something truly rancid and devoid of laughs. Jordan Gelber plays Abe, a hapless loser, approaching 40, who works for his father (Christopher Walken, catatonic) and lives with Dad and Mom... (Mia Farrow, who’s still done nothing of value since leaving Woody) in the bedroom of his childhood, now a shrine to ThunderCats merchandise.

On a first date with a woman he meets at a wedding (Selma Blair, catatonic), he proposes marriage. (Blair takes so long to give Gelber her phone number, I assumed she was making one up, but no.) She accepts – or does she? – and only later confesses she has Hepatitis B, which by the way she may have transmitted to Abe, and has a mysterious gentleman friend, whom she wants him to meet. Solondz’s MO is that of a playground bully: find the weakest, most vulnerable person to target and pile on mercilessly.

The tone of “Dark Horse” careers from deadpan, pitch-black comedy to even more bizarre fantasy sequences, while Gelber’s performance careens embarrassingly from quiet desperation to rah-rah PMA self-delusion. None of it works. Between this movie and “Ruby Sparks,” you begin to wonder what planet you’re on. How about some real stories with heart and soul, about some actual Tellurians?

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