What we have here, I’m happy to report, is one of the wildest, most inventive, and free-wheelin’ movies I’ve seen in…maybe ever. FRANKIE IN BLUNDERLAND starts out strange and never lets up, and in fact it actually manages to ride a steadily growing wave of bizarro situations and unpredictable characters until the viewer is left feeling (rightfully so) that anything is possible.
It’s a bit of a shame that there isn’t more of a firm story thread to hang onto, so that we could keep at least one toe in the real world, but after a while it really doesn’t matter, and it begins to feel like that may actually be the point, if there is one. What there is involves the hapless Frankie, held back and belittled by his wife, Katie, and a freeloading houseguest, Tommy, until he snaps and kills Tommy. Or at least that’s what appears to happen, because it isn’t long before Tommy, who has a thing for Katie, is back to kidnap Katie.
The rest of the movie follows Frankie as he blunders from one episode to the next, supposedly searching for his “missing” wife. Why he wants to find her is never clear, because what we see of her is deeply unpleasant. And for a “missing” person, she sure pops up, unexplained, quite a bit. If that sounds confusing, it doesn’t even begin to cover it. It’s better to just sit back and enjoy the ride. I’d even recommend some drugs and alcohol, but they’re really not necessary (although they wouldn’t hurt either). The whole movie feels like a bad trip, from the very cool animated credits to the giant spider with a woman’s face and soothing voice. Add to that the tiny, deranged, and very well-hung fairy, the hobo in a cape, the alien disguised as a glowing Mormon boy, the woman who can’t stop slipping in dog shit, the deeply creepy puppet boy who always wants a cookie, the….well, you get the idea.
The makers seem to be going for some overall existentialism, with the constant refrain of “Today is stupid”, but the movie doesn’t really have the strength to carry that weight. It’s not disturbing enough, in spite of a very violent streak, to have a real impact on that level, not the way that a Lynch movie would. It almost feels like a kindred spirit to Linklater’s SLACKER in a lot of ways and the cast does fantastic, very committed work. As it is, FRANKIE IN BLUNDERLAND is totally inspired and dedicated to its own lunacy, a very entertaining trip, even if, in the end, it ends up going literally nowhere. I don’t think there are really cult classics anymore, but if this came out in the 80’s, it would have been filling up midnight movie houses for a very long time.
Review: Baron Von Marte