March 1, 2012

Living Will (2010)

Directed by Matthew Lauyer. Starring Ryan Dunn ("Belcher"), April Scott ("Krista"), Gerard Haitz ("Will"), and Noam Harary ("Stoner Matt"). Rated R.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Lionsgate)
Running time: 01:42:43
Country: USA

The late Ryan Dunn of JACKASS fame died in a car accident just days after his 34th birthday in June of 2011. Before his death, however, he starred in this very ironic comedy in which he plays a slacker named Belcher who dies while taking a shit, comes back from the dead as a ghost, and proceeds to haunt his best friend of many years. Once again, it's a comedy and obviously not a horror movie, so instead of a spectral version of Belcher that walks through walls or bears any resemblance to a corpse, we basically get Dunn's character looking exactly like he did before he died, except only his best friend Will can see him. It's kinda like DROP DEAD FRED if you think about it, especially when you consider the fact that Will eventually rejects Belcher's friendship at a certain point.

Prior to his death, Belcher was a very clingy and annoying type of person in regards to his borderline homoerotic relationship with Will, which ties into why he later came back as a ghost - even in death he refuses to part ways with his friend. And, as I mentioned earlier, Belcher dies while taking a shit, but I couldn't tell if it was due to severe constipation or because he hit his head on the bathtub when he fainted while defecating. Seeing as he ingested bacon grease not too long before his death, he could have died from heart failure or something along those lines. Whatever the case, it was a bit strange for me to see Ryan Dunn die in this film despite its absurd comedic nature, but it was even more uncomfortable to see Dunn in a casket during Belcher's funeral scene. I've unashamedly been a huge fan of JACKASS for many years and was saddened when he passed away. Say what you want about him or the circumstances surrounding his death, but he entertained me for years and I've heard stories of him being an extremely nice person.

Anyway, back to the movie. Belcher's plan of continuing his friendship with Will after he dies is ruined when Will meets Belcher's cousin at his funeral and later hooks up with her. Belcher's cousin, Krista, eventually moves in, so Belcher attempts to sabotage the relationship with hopes that he can have Will all to himself. Be warned, the rest of this paragraph contains mild spoilers, but this isn't exactly a plot-driven movie with any sort of twist or revelation, so whatever. That being said, Belcher has an unusual character arc in the film. I mean, he goes out of his way to damage Will and Krista's relationship, but then he just suddenly has a change of heart and decides the two of them should be together before literally walking away and kicking someone in the nuts, which sums up the type of juvenile humor and unpredictable character behavior you can expect from LIVING WILL.

To be fair, I didn't go into LIVING WELL expecting some sort of masterpiece, but I did expect it to be funny, and that it is not. In fact, it's quite dull for the most part, with some genuinely funny moments few and far between and some always-welcomed gratuitous female nudity throughout. Below is a prime example of the typical dialogue that you'll find in LIVING WILL:
Belcher referring to Krista: "She just moved in and already this place looks like the Golden Girls live here. You'd think a Care Bear blew up. I'd rather eat a band-aid. You make me wanna vomit."

I don't keep up with reviews and whatnot enough to know how people feel about this film or if Dunn's death has overshadowed it in any way, but I can assume that Dunn's passing and the irony of him playing someone who comes back from the dead will probably get more people to watch this who probably wouldn't have otherwise, which was at least the case with me. I'm sure I would have sought this movie out eventually since it stars Dunn, as well as Bam Margera in a cameo, but I certainly wouldn't have gone out of my way to watch it. Speaking of which, promotional artwork for the film advertises Bam as one of the main star and suggests he plays the best friend of Dunn's character, which is far from the case. Margera has a very brief role as a bar patron who basically gets beat up by Dunn's ghost. Apparently Margera was supposed to be playing a redneck, but his ridiculous accent makes him sound like he's mentally-retarded as opposed to someone who goes hunting and drives a pick-up truck. As much as I like Bam Margera, he's one of the worst things about this movie for the two minutes or so that he's on screen.

While LIVING WILL isn't a standout comedy by any means, I still kind of enjoyed it. The thing is, the film didn't win me over until the end when the irony of Dunn playing a dead guy really started to sink in, and it was then that I found the movie to be somewhat touching. Admittedly I'm biased because of my love for JACKASS and the fact that I'm a bit more forgiving of certain projects that members of the JACKASS crew have been involved with over the years. If you're like me in that respect, you'll probably enjoy parts of LIVING WILL; if not, you'll more than likely despise the film.

Score: A generous 6

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