Years ago, in the throes of World War II, when my great-grandmother Leona DeBaene traveled to America from Belgium, do you think she would stop to ponder what kind of life her legacy would bring? Would she imagine us as successful? As film critics? As those who have watched a film from her homeland in rapt horror and disgust?
No. No, I’d like to think we would be spared from such nonsense.
But great-grandmother Debaene was wrong. Very wrong…
This is my review for MOTHER SCHMUCKERS (2021), a comedy (I suppose) that is directed by brothers, Harpo and Lenny Guit. It stars Claire Bodson, Maxi Delmelle, Harpo Guit, and Mathieu Amalric (why just why?).
The plot itself is a Zen puzzle of throwing everything and yet nothing at your eyes. Two brothers, Issachar (Maxi Delmelle) and Zabulon (Harpo Guit) are searching for something to eat, even trying to cook feces at the beginning of the movie, literally causing the brothers and their mother to vomit at the camera.
From there they…do things? Stupid, weird, and grotesque things. Like borrowing a gun from a friend and literally running around with it (there’s a lot of running around for various reasons in this film), being in a music video before being sexually assaulted, possibly killing someone, shooting someone, running from the corrupt police, and joining a bestiality club, as they search for their mother’s dog.
The dog doesn’t fare well, just a warning.
MOTHER SCHMUCKERS is like someone binged John Waters’ films, early ’90s screwball comedies, Fred: The Movie, Freddy Got Fingered, and TikTok videos of “hilarious social experiments” in a locked, padded room for twelve months straight. This is the result.
It’s promoted as the next cult film but lacks what makes a cult film endearing – character engagement. There’s a reason why cult films exist (and why I freakin’ love them). They fill a void for those also feeling overlooked and unpolished. We see ourselves with The Dude, Frankenfurter, Divine, and that glasses kid from Troll 2 (“Oh my Gooooood”). They are tragic, but engaging characters. We hate and love them in the same breath. They enrapture us with their off-beat, sometimes depraved, ways.
And the brothers don’t cut it. They’re not charismatic or endearing enough to carry MOTHER SCHMUCKERS, for all of its insanity. There’s little style or substance to keep it fresh (unless you enjoy close-up after close-up). The narrative is gross-out “humor” of farts, drool, dogs biting dicks, screaming (oh my God, the incessant screaming), animal abuse, homophobia, necrophilia, and possible slight traces of incest between the brothers. And the funniest thing about that is all of that’s been done before…but better.
However, my mother always did tell me to say one thing nice about everything, so here’s my compliment. The music was well-scored and enjoyable. I would credit someone here generally, but I’m not sure who actually to credit.
Regardless, my bottom line for MOTHER SCHMUCKERS (a.k.a. Fils de plouc) is an apology to my great-grandmother. I’m sorry. I’ll do better in my life.
MOTHER SCHMUCKERS had its world premiere on January 30 at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.