Editor’s Notes: Bad Milo! will be available on Blu-ray and DVD January 21st. Special Features include Extended Outtakes, Deleted Scene: Veterinarian, Interview with Ken Marino, and Behind Mile: Raw Take.
There are times when a film struggles to evolve past its premise. Coming up with an original idea does not necessarily mean you have set yourself up for success. A fantastic premise can be undone shockingly quickly, especially when said premise resides in an area of the ridiculous and obscure. I don’t care how fantastic your idea sounds, if you don’t have a solid script it will all just fall apart. Even the best comedic actors will have trouble eliciting laughter from unfunny jokes. Let’s not forget that Brewster’s Millions had both Richard Pryor and John Candy, or better yet, let’s. Bad Milo! has a lot of potential but seems too distracted by the kid in the corner screaming “butt monster” over and over again.
Bad Milo! has a lot of potential but seems too distracted by the kid in the corner screaming “butt monster” over and over again.
Duncan (Ken Marino) is having some serious intestinal issues. An endless cavalcade of stresses march through his life, from his wife’s desire for children to his mother’s overbearing nature and relationship with a younger man. As the stresses crescendo so does his ever worsening stomachache, until his bathroom time pain becomes too much to bear. Soon the very people that are causing Duncan stress start meeting grisly ends and his foggy memory is worrying him. With the help of a hypnotherapist, Duncan finds out just what his inner demon looks like. The film’s central concept revolves around an anus emerging demon, so no matter how hard it wants to delve into the horror element it is hard to avoid the ridiculousness of that very idea. The premise alone will assuredly establish its audience; a colon goblin will have its fans and detractors. So for those butt humor accepting, how does the film work? Well, it’s just kind of all right. It immediately tries to play in that comedy-horror playground/terror-dome, for how else could a film about a murderous anal dweller, or ASSassin if you will (it was coming eventually), play out. It’s not the cast that fails to bring the laughs, containing more than its fair share of worthwhile comedians. Ken Marino has been quietly entertaining in underappreciated roles, Stephen Root is typically a lock, although he has a varying taste in scripts, and Gillian Jacobs and Kumail Nanjiani tend to deliver. They just don’t have much to work with, and in many cases are terribly misplaced. Marino is known for his more ridiculous characters, those that are allowed to go for the absurd, and despite his good looks he has not made it into leading roles. The film chooses to have Marino play the straight man, usually at his best in reality-detached character roles, so he is basically neutered. Gillian Jacobs is the put-upon and somewhat cold wife and is given nothing of substance to contribute. Root and Nanjiani are the only two really given any meat to bite into, and even then it is entirely shallow with infrequent laughs. Then there is the horror aspect. First of all, the occasional splash of blood and gore (that honestly is tame enough to be accepted on cable) does not a horror film make. The scares are not there and the label itself seems put forth as a mark of confused marketing. The film’s biggest problem is this lack of commitment. It never dives head first into the comedy, with laughs that emerge rarely and possibly in spite of the mediocre script. Additionally, it is playing in a puddle of horror at best. Successful horror-comedies are a marriage of the two. Plenty of scares stirred in with solid laughs. For a film that relies on a concept that requires an abandonment of common sense it is all played far too close to the middle.
The film’s biggest problem is this lack of commitment. It never dives head first into the comedy, with laughs that emerge rarely and possibly in spite of the mediocre script. Additionally, it is playing in a puddle of horror at best.
The character design is decent and it is nice to see that Milo is played in live-action rather than CGI. The designers were able to merge cuddliness with fear. Often feeling like a combination of Mogwai and Gremlin that can deftly switch back and forth, bringing about deeply nostalgic memories of the lub-lubs from Mom and Dad Save the World. But even Milo’s intentions are constantly changing. We are told that he only acts to protect Duncan but he goes through the motions of destroying Duncan’s life. As the two grow closer and a softer side of Milo is revealed, a near friendship between the two is established. However, it is all frittered away before we can even digest, leaving the film feeling repetitive and hollow. The excitement over the spontaneity of a supposed great idea can distract from its inherent problems. Time is the ultimate buzzkill. When we are forced to sit down and go into detail of our plans we must occasionally come to grips with the fact that our brilliance wasn’t as enlightened as we once believed. Bad Milo! would have been quite the beneficiary of time. Seemingly an exploration of our inner demons, it derives its ingenuity from the manifestation of the id emerging from the body’s ultimate exit. Looking past the stupid but admittedly funny premise, little more is established. An empty script puts the cast through the motions with little fanfare. It isn’t appallingly bad, just upsettingly bland. The film is an escalating series of scatological humor that misses more than hits, feeling far too adolescent to garner full laughs; while the horror aspects amount to little more than splashes of blood. Bad Milo! has hopes of inspiring laughter and just a bit of terror, but the film barely accomplishes either, lacking the commitment required to be anything more than middling. [notification type=”star”]50/100 ~ MEDIOCRE. Bad Milo! has hopes of inspiring laughter and just a bit of terror, but the film barely accomplishes either, lacking the commitment required to be anything more than middling.[/notification]