Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland are very dangerous men. I’ve known this for quite a while, but the two new films they're part of reinforce this idea quite persuasively, as they reach out to a wider audience than they've ever had before.
Before the era of "Jackass" and "Punk'd" and Bam Margera doing whatever the f he wants to and Tom Green fellating cow udders, Botko and Gurland were making short films that are still hard to believe when you see them. Botko’s “Dessertumentary” series blew my mind, one of the most openly hostile comic exercises I’ve ever seen. Basically, he had a ton of unresolved aggression towards his family and decided to work it out on film. In the film "Fruit Cake," he bakes a fruit cake for his family, but he has an assortment of homeless people spit in the batter before he cooks it. In subsequent films like "Baked Alaska," "Cheesecake," and "Graham Cracker Cream Pie," he continues to make desserts filled with vile substances including his own semen... desserts that he ends each film by serving to his family members so he can film them while they’re eating. The short films are both hilarious and terrifying, unchecked comic hostility on display.
Right around the same time, Gurland made a feature documentary called "Frat House," a controversial feature he co-directed with Todd ("The Hangover", "Old School") Phillips. It’s ferociously entertaining, and it made quite a stir at the 1998 Sundance Festival, partly because of it’s harrowing and wickedly funny look at college fraternity hazing rituals, and partly because of accusations that the film was more fiction than fact.
Botko and Gurland met at NYU Film School, but it wasn’t until after they’d both gone away and made films on their own, until after the “Dessertumentary” films and "Frat School," that they finally worked together. Their films "Gramaglia," "Julie (Is A C**t)", and "Broken Condom" all continued to push the boundaries of both documentary and comedy. Watching them, it’s impossible to tell what’s real and what’s not. More than anything, all you can do is marvel at the gleeful cruelty of it all. In "Broken Condom," Gurland spends much of the running time browbeating his real pregnant wife, accusing her of manipulating him into having a child. The highlight of the film is the moment where Gurland’s wife, hooked up to a polygraph, ends up breaking down in tears. Their feature film "Mail Order Wife" is deranged, and the title only hints at the rough sides of human nature they exploit for dark, bitter laughs in their work.
This fall, they're back with two new films. They wrote the script for "The Last Exorcism," and they came close to directing it, but at the last moment, another project of theirs moved forward, and they felt like they were better suited to execute "The Virginity Hit." Any question you have about how real "The Virginity Hit" is after seeing the first trailer... well, I'm guessing that's part of the point...
I wrote a bit about my reaction to this after the Sony panel at Comic-Con this year. I'm still not sure what I think. I do know that the involvement of Botko and Gurland automatically makes me interested, and I'm betting that what we've seen so far barely hints at what this film really is. Adding in the protective producing team of Adam McKay and Will Ferrell only further flames my enthusiasm. They've definitely got my attention.
Now let's see some crazy.
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