Vengeance is a comedy thriller directed and written by B.J. Novak. It was produced by Blumhouse Productions and distributed by Focus Features. It had its premiere at Tribeca Festival.
New York journalist and podcast host Ben Manalowitz (B.J. Novak) is living a fast life that is career-focused. He gets a call from Ty Shaw (Boyd Holbrook), the brother of a random girl he hooked up with named Abilene (Lio Tipton) calls him to tell him she died of a drug overdose. After being guilted into it, he arrives at the funeral in Texas and learns that Abilene’s family, including her mother Sharon (J. Smith-Cameron), believes he was serious about her. On the way to the airport, Ty confides to Ben that he believes Abilene was murdered. Seeing an opportunity to make a podcast about how people refuse to accept reality, Ben pitches the idea to his producer Eloise (Issa Rae) who agrees to it. Ben meets Abilene’s producer Quentin Sellers (Ashton Kutcher) who is strangely philosophical. As Ben starts to work with the family, he soon learns that there was more to Abilene’s death and he finds himself pulled into her Texas family.
I went into this movie fully expecting a comedy that was aimed to mock those rube Texans in the middle of nowhere while the intrepid New York journalist solves all their problems before leaving in disgust. To my surprise, this was not the case. Texas and Texans are actually portrayed as human beings who have desires, fears, hopes, dreams, and even goes out of the way to compliment their common sense.
Novak actually created a nuanced story about how people from totally different parts of the United States can learn from each other if we just sit and listen. The message of the film is that no matter our level of education, we will descend into our most basic human parts. While I did have a few issues with the movie, I did appreciate how clever it represents itself.
As a native and proud Texan, I got all of the jokes about the university football teams, where to get burgers, and the gun community.
As for the acting, Novak basically plays a more sophisticated version of Ryan from The Office, even having some of the same expressions. Kutcher was fantastic, as usual. I would be remiss if I did not mention J. Smith-Cameron. Wow, I was blown away by one of her scenes in particular where I applauded.
Bottom line, Vengeance is a suprise comedy with some dark points, but a nuanced look at different people with different walks of life.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Drug content, Strong foul language
FAVORITE QUOTE: It’s all regrets. You run as fast as you can from the last regret and of course, you are just running straight into the next one. That’s life. It’s all regrets. That’s what they should say. No other way to be alive. It’s all regrets. Make ’em count.
Check out the trailer below:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my reviews of Thor: Love and Thunder and Nope. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.
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