Skip to main content

It Has Hugh-man Siemen

Movie Review: Heavy Times (2010/Release 2011)
Three friends are pressured into a wild night of partying by an alcoholic who wants to take them to Montreal.
Spoilers: none 

Heavy Times takes us into the lives of three ordinary guys who wish they had things better than they do.

“Hugh” (Jason Bruner) is a youth basketball coach and not much else besides being a guy with enough of a sense of humor to have an email address containing the words “Hugh-man sieman.” “Mark” (Adam Lauver) may be the most verbally astute of the three, but he sells used cars on a small, seedy car lot and is a terrible salesman. “Dan” (Brian D. Evans) has it the worst, as he is a sign-holder on the street who finds it in himself to brave the drive-by curse words and ridicule on a daily basis. 

Tricking themselves into thinking they will have a good time, the three take a jacked-up 1987 eyesore of a van that Mark is considering purchasing from his dealership and hit a local party scene where Dan hopes the girl he has a crush on doesn't remember that he threw up all over her a week earlier. They do less than score with the ladies or fit in. Bored and out of options as to how to occupy themselves, the three tag along with Dan to his sister’s (Leah Garvin) house where they meet her husband, the most annoying blowhard they’ve ever met, an alcoholic party machine who calls himself “Uncle Rick” (Jeff Koen).

To say that the meet-up makes the three uneasy is understating matters. Not content to stop at criticizing and passively belittling his brother-in-law and his two friends by making genital remarks followed by other insults back at home, Rick decides to take them out for a night of irresponsible drinking, after which time, he peer-pressures them into taking a trip to Montreal to show them what real partying is like.

En route, they meet “Gunther,” (Keaton Farmer) Mark’s ex-roommate and newly made Satanist whose goal is to usher in the return of the antichrist. He lives in the basement of his contrastingly sane sister “Anna” (Melina Chadbourne), but happens to be the only force known to the three capable of offsetting the bat-shit insanity of Rick on this out-of-control night of partying and insults.

The movie, like most that ride on the theme of The Hangover (2009) and Ready or Not (2009), consists of comedy that features some honest, hardworking guys and the writers’ desire to let the audience know that the road to hedonism is bricked with many an opportunity for enlightenment. Heavy Times nails the comedy aspect of things, and in doing so, equally succeeds at exploring a wider range of emotions in its spry story, making it both funnier and more interesting than The Hangover and other recent binge-focused films.

Amidst rap showdowns, an obnoxious brother-in-law, and topless girls in hot tubs, it is the show-stealing character of Rick that will max out any “crazy uncle” story you have heard or can recall. Koen does more than put loads of energy into his performance. He can epitomize, at every glance, his role of the self-absorbed, self-deluded know-it-all whose offensively opinionated and dominating personality makes us want to shoot him in the head, despite the fact that Rick has no idea why or how he intimidates everyone he comes in contact with.

Viewers find themselves torn between an abundant supply of the relentlessly raunchy humor that keeps coming and the stomach-turning, pressure-building antics of Rick who can make whole audiences feel like they’re walking into a fight as surely as he can make them laugh. 

The kernel of our story consists not just of Rick, but of the three guys he pushes around. The audience is made as uncomfortable as Mark and Dan must be in Rick’s presence. Few would put up with him for half as long as these guys do, but that’s part of why these losers fail. They let others set the pace, being too afraid to stand up for themselves. Rick is the key to the lock that bars them from ever being let loose from the bonds of their inhibitions.

All three – Hugh, Dan, and Mark – are as pathetic together as they are apart, but only Hugh knows it going in and takes an affinity to this so-called “uncle” who acts as though he has the wisdom and wit of a retired mobster. Heavy Times is the three’s escalation towards the realization of just what they’re missing in life—a sense of adventure and the ability to “de-stress,” as Rick puts it.

The well-defined personalities and sharply mapped out characters allow the viewing experience to be far more meaningful in a genre where the comedies tend to be cheap, tawdry, and bong-obsessed. Heavy Times lets its story take the lead, allowing the film to emerge as a strongly acted and obscenely funny excursion that will make as lasting of an impression on audiences as Rick himself.


Grade: A- (4 stars)
Rated: No MPAA rating (contains, language, drug use, and brief female nudity)
Directors: Benjamin Mark, Ryan McKenna
Starring: “Hugh” (Jason Bruner), “Mark” (Adam Lauver), “Rick” (Jeff Koen), “Dan” (Brian D Evans), “T-bone” (Tony Moschetto), “Hot Tub Girl 1” (Stacey Puopolo), “Hot Tub Girl 2” (Theresa Novicky), “Meghan” (Leah Garvin), “Rachel” (Bridget Palardy), “Sarah” (Karla Rose Fuller), “Anna” (Melina Chadbourne)
Genre: Comedy


Popular posts from this blog

When Jesus Turns Down the Glory: 10 Worst Ever Christian Songs

It’s a sad testimony when even the creator of a thing realizes that the product isn’t what it was intended to be. Well, actually it’s a good thing. It just doesn’t happen often enough. The Christian music industry is, shall we say, not up to par with where its admirers (and even creators and ardent well-wishers) would hope it would be. And when even the average believer realizes that their music is not market-cornering stuff, all should know that there is a problem.

Now not all Christian music sucks (you might even find a few rock songs from artists like Petra on Joe Holman’s ipod that he still sometimes listens to and enjoys), but what makes the stuff that does suck suck is that what sucks sucks for a number of different reasons. We begin the countdown going from best of the worst to absolute worst...

The Top 5 Most Powerful Beings in Sci-fi (Part I of II)

It’s a subject that is rarely tackled in any form outside of random questions on a message board, but here we will devote a sensible examination of it. Who – what – is the most powerful being anywhere in every realm of sci-fi or fantasy ever dreamt up by a finite human being? I’ve been contemplating this subject since I was 8 years old. At 39, it hasn’t left my mind. That means several things; (1) I’m a fucking geek. (2) I’ve invested enough of my life pondering this for it to qualify as an obsession.

As with all “Most” anything lists, we are faced with several problems, one of them being limited source material. A couple of these only made one or two brief appearances somewhere and that is all we have to go by. But sometimes, those situations let our imaginations go into overdrive and give us even more creative fun. The mystery tends to add to the experience of contemplation.

The Top 5 Most Powerful Beings in Sci-fi (Part II of II)

#1) The Douwds – From Star Trek The Next Generation

Claim to fame: This Douwd went from pacifist to mass murderer of 50 billion in a single moment of anger. He appears to hold the record for most murders in all of sci-fi.
Abilities: Just about unlimited.
Nature: True immortals.

Our winner, debatably edging out number #2, is a mysterious race of beings called the Douwds. We only get to meet one of their kind in a single episode (#51, season 3 - see the condensed version here) called “The Survivors.” It was one of the very best of any season. What little we know of this illusive race “of disguises and false surroundings” only adds to our fascination with them.

When the Enterprise gets an urgent distress call from a federation colony on Delta Rana IV about an attacking alien warship, they head over as fast as they can, but they are days away. By the time they arrive, it is too late. All are dead and the planet has been literally leveled…with the sole exception of one house and the small pa…