A movie review of “Buzzard”: This uneven comedy-drama works best as an ironic portrait of a small-time scam artist but loses ground as a self-important portrait of urban despair and creeping psychosis. Rating: 2 stars out of 4.
How much fun can one have with a bag of Bugles chips or a plate of spaghetti?
In the lighter, deadpan moments of “Buzzard,” playing with food — and the act of watching others make a mess with food via long, unbroken close-ups — descends into ironic decadence. At those times, this odd comedy-drama, written and directed by Joel Potrykus, resembles something caught between Beavis and Butt-head and Andy Warhol.
At other times, certainly during “Buzzard’s” long third act, when humor — self-conscious or otherwise — tediously vanishes, Potrykus ratchets up the gravity to turn his absurdist portrait of a marginal loser into a too-familiar study of urban despair, violence and psychosis. Everything about “Buzzard” up to that point is unpredictable, funny and even insightful; everything that follows is strained and tired.
Movie Review ★★
‘Buzzard,’ with Joshua Burge, Joel Potrykus. Written and directed by Potrykus. 97 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Grand Illusion.
Joshua Burge plays Marty, a lanky, popeyed temp employee hardly working at a mortgage company. A small-time scam artist who rips off office supplies, manipulates workers’ compensation and gets free stuff by making consumer complaints, Marty treads onto more dangerous territory by stealing and cashing checks made out to his employer’s customers.
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Paranoid, Marty goes on the lam (though there’s no evidence anyone even knows what he’s done), ending up in the basement of an idiotic co-worker (played by Potrykus). “Buzzard” hits a high point here as the combined cluelessness and unusual snacking habits of these frenemies are played out in blackout-sketch form.
After that, originality and dweeb humor go out the window. There’s some salvation in Burge’s odd presence, no matter how hackneyed the scene. Something of a cross between a young Steve Buscemi and every photograph you’ve ever seen of an anemic punk rocker circa 1977, Burge is a strange but genuine talent.