Friday, November 11, 2016

Kent Osborne Is Waiting for the End of the World

Kent Osborne, cartoon cat, and rose-colored sky.
Due to the election, the following review didn't make it into this week's Stranger, but the film is still winding its way around the country (it played for one night only at the NWFF, so it's too late to catch it in Seattle).  

Uncle Kent 2, part of the Northwest Film Forum's Dystopia on Our Doorstep series, starts out as a sequel to Joe Swanberg's 2011 chat-room sex comedy Uncle Kent. While writing down the things he's doing, actor and writer Kent Osborne, the deceptively sane-looking gent from Swanberg's 2007 Hannah Takes the Stairs, does those very things, i.e. sits on the porch, gets high, and prepares for the apocalypse or, as he calls it, "the singularity" (a term swiped from futurist Ray Kurzweil).

That night, Osborne runs into Swanberg at a house party and tries to interest him in directing the script we're watching. "I hate to be a dick," says Swanberg, "but I hate sequels, man." At that point--the 12-minute mark--filmmaker Todd Rohal (The Guatemalan Handshake) takes over, and the tone shifts from awkwardly amusing to just plain weird.

George Miller's 1998 Babe: Pig in the City.
Osborne proceeds to do a jiggly dance, munch on salad, go to bed, and dream of rose-colored skies and blue cartoon cats (Osborne's Adventure Time colleague, Pendleton Ward, provided the animated opening credits).

The next day, Osborne wakes up and returns to his quotidian life as writer for the animated series Cat Agent and travels to San Diego for Comic-Con, where emojis come to life, a Cat Agent cosplayer (Lyndsay Hailey) seduces him, and various randos (including Linas Phillips and "Weird" Al Yankovic) appear and disappear like video-game glitches. All the while, Swing Out Sister's ingratiating plastic-jazz hit "Breakout" refuses to leave his head, culminating in the world's longest masturbation scene.

When Uncle Kent 2, which was co-produced by 2016 Stranger Genius nominee Mel Eslyn, premiered at this year's SXSW, Indiewire chief film critic Eric Kohn mused that it just might be "the craziest movie sequel ever." It's hard to imagine that anyone will ever top Joe Dante and Chuck Jones's similarly self-referential Gremlins 2: The New Batch, in which the co-directors threw all their favorite stuff at the screen to what might stick, but Osborne and Rohal certainly give it a run for the money.

Endnote: Dystopia on Our Doorstep continues at the NWFF through 11/26. Other films in the series include Homo Sapiens and Babe: Pig in the City. Click here for more info. Images from Universal Pictures and Factory 25.

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