Trash Humpers

2009 Harmony Korine movie

Rating: 3/20

Plot: The title is pretty explicit actually.

Harmony Korine has bottomed himself.

This is kind of like that Jackass Bad Grandpa movie except instead of trying to make people laugh, it's like Korine is trying to irritate you. You realize within the first three or four minutes that the entire movie is going to be the same sort of thing--people in bad old people masks running around breaking things and humping trash cans. From there, it's a real endurance test to get through the thing, and I'm not sure if I'm proud of myself or disappointed in myself for making it to the end. And while watching, I had trouble figuring out if it was even a movie. Korine does refer to it as a "film" in the end credits, but why should we believe the guy?

Something else I might be disappointed in myself for: I've recommended this to two other people. I'm guilty, but I just couldn't be alone in the experience and be the only person who has seen Trash Humpers. But I do apologize, Mark and Josh.

This movie certainly does bring the pain, but it's not without its moments. I even laughed out loud a few times. A guy telling jokes in his front yard ("So these two pigeons are on the beach. Not pigeons--seagulls. Fuck!" might be the best movie joke I've heard in all my years of doing this blog.) was pretty good. And. . .well, I'm sure there was something else in this that made me laugh. Most of this little VHS-recorded faux-avant-garde (more like avant-hard-to-watch! Ta-duh-dum!) feels just like somebody is jabbing you in the brain with the business end of a spork. Taking a wheelchair through a car wash, mindless destruction of a house or a television, laughing at a kid in a suit who can't play basketball, laughing at a toilet, tap-dancing, the repeated line (nearly Shakespearean) of "Get that trash pussy!," the other repeated mantra of "Make it, make it, don't fake it," characters eating pancakes with dish soap on them, fake Siamese twins in hospital robes with exposed buttocks, those same twins putting on a puppet show, the most grating cackling you're ever likely to hear.

All the appearances of the words "play" and "tracking" and the lo-fi quality gives this a found footage vibe. It's like the Blair Witch Project without any plot at all and with the woods replaced by alleys and the witch replaced by artsy-fartsy assholes dressed as old people trying to have sex with trash cans.

This is people going out with cheap equipment and no ideas and trying to make a movie. It's the film equivalent of a contractual obligation album by a musician forced to make one last album except Korine doesn't have that excuse. No, Harmony Korine, a provocateur with nothing interesting to say, actually had a vision, gathered people together, and then very likely came close to putting his vision on the screen. And that's why this is a damn shame. John Waters has already done all this shit, Harmony Korine, and he did it a lot better. And I'm not even sure that I like his films at all.

You know, I know this all sounds pretty negative. Ask me in a few months. I might have nothing but fond memories of this movie. Maybe the idea of this movie will grow on me as time goes on. Right now, I'm just kind of annoyed.

"Make it, make it, don't fake it."


Anonymous said...

I'm giving this the NR score as i am not equipped to rate this. i do love the "3 little devils jumped over the wall" song. that is worthy of a few points by itself, and i have already integrated the "comedian's" routine into mine.

Shane said...

I was very close to going with the NR, too. It's like Pink Flamingos for me. I just don't really know how to rate it.

Josh said...

I can give this a solid rating of 1/20. The only reason it gets a point at all is for 3 things that gave it any kind of substance at all.
1. The failed stand-up guy. Like you, I chuckled at his 2 pigeons/seagulls joke.
2. The "If People Had No Heads" soliloquy
3. The VHS formatting

Everything else was the kind of stuff that I roll my eyes at when my students think something is funny.

First off, it didn't feel like a comedy. It felt like a stupid horror movie in the vein of “The Strangers;” random acts of violence that really never end up leading to a story. I kept thinking Texas Chainsaw Massacre…only white-trashier and less intelligent (if that’s possible).

I watched a quick interview with the maker of this movie, and he said that his movie was the “ultimate American movie” and that “it should be shown in middle schools and high schools all over the country.” What? If he thinks that, then you said it best when you brought up John Waters and his Pink Flamingos. It’s already been done, and it’s been done better.

If there was any attempt at comedy (and I think the majority of this was), then this just fell flat in just about every way possible. At least with Jackass, the comedy came organically. This movie was WAY too forced. Ok, you all sit around and circle jerk with old people masks on doing stupid voices and you think it’s funny. But it just doesn’t come through on film, and it sure as shit doesn’t make a movie. The fact that this was thought out in any way is probably the biggest irony of all (and not the funny kind of irony).

My main questions have to do with the auxiliary people in the movie (not the tools in the hospital gowns). Were they actors? It didn’t feel like they were. If they weren’t, then I might give this movie a 1.5/20 for at least finding interesting people to film (besides the fucking stars of this movie).

Overall, it was depressing. It felt like watching a suicide. I can understand your feeling about not wanting to be the only to have seen it….misery does love her company.

Shane said...

I am really really sorry.

My 3/20 is precisely because of the non-actors in there. I too assumed they were just discoveries.

Josh said...

I just laughed out loud at your apology. When I look back on this, the story of you having me watch this movie is a funnier and better story than the movie itself. No need to apologize; any chance I get to be in the vast universe that is your cinematic experience is a great moment for me.