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Spencer Susser
Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rainn Wilson, John Carroll Lynch, Piper Laurie, Devin Brochu, Frank Collison , Audrey Wasilewski
Writing Credits:
Spencer Susser , David Michôd, Brian Charles Frank (story)

Sometimes life gives you the finger and sometimes it gives you ...

Loud music. Pornography. Lighting fires. These are a few of Hesher's favorite things. And they are what Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) brings into the lives of TJ (Devin Brochu) and his father Paul (Rainn Wilson) when he takes up residence in the garage uninvited. Grief stricken by the loss of TJ's mother, Paul can't muster the strength to evict the strange squatter and soon the long-haired, tattooed Hesher becomes a fixture in the household. Like a force of nature, Hesher's anarchy shakes the family out of their grief and helps them embrace life once more.

Box Office:
$7 million.
Opening Weekend
$126.046 thousand on 42 screens.
Domestic Gross
$382.946 thousand.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.44:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 106 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 9/13/2011

• Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes
• “Behind the Scenes” Featurette
• Trailer
• “Air Traffic”
• Sketch Gallery
• TV Channels Promo
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Hesher [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 14, 2011)

How you know you’re about to watch a movie that comes packed with “attitude”: the Blu-ray’s icon shows a raised middle finger, and the menu implores you to “play it, dude”. That’s what arrives for 2011’s Hesher.

After the sudden death of his wife, Paul Forney (Rainn Wilson) loses all drive and energy, and this leaves him barely able to care for his adolescent son TJ (Devin Brochu). Into this stagnant life steps rebellious loner Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a greasy metal-head who appears out of nowhere. He takes up uninvited residence at TJ’s house and becomes a disruptive, aggressive influence on the boy’s life.

When did Hesher officially lose me? Around the 16-minute mark, when it becomes clear that Hesher actually exists.

Confusing? Yeah, but here’s the scoop. During TJ’s first few encounters with Hesher, it seems altogether possible – if not likely – that the scraggly loner is just a figment of the boy’s imagination, a way for him to let out all the anger he feels about his mother’s death. Scenes exist that make little sense otherwise, such as the one when Hesher flicks a tube of glue at TJ through an open classroom window but no one else notices the guy. (And as a public school employee, I’m pretty sure that someone with Hesher’s serial killer appearance wouldn’t be able to traipse around and into a school without any attention from authorities.)

When we hit that 16-minute-or-so mark, though, we learn that others do see Hesher; TJ’s dad and grandma (Piper Laurie) interact with him. That leaves two possibilities: that the entire story is a figment of TJ’s imagination, or that we’re supposed to take the tale literally.

Everything that occurs points to the second interpretation, and that’s a problem, especially given the outlandish nature of Hesher’s hijinks. As a metaphor, he was a passable incarnation of an adolescent’s id run emok; as a real character, he’s utterly unbelievable. TJ’s family just lets him move in with them? The cops never catch up to his trail of mayhem? Seriously?

Hesher dances uncomfortably on the line of drama and comedy, and it fails to figure out which it prefers. Actually, it leans toward drama most of the time, as it’s usually a pretty somber affair. However, there’s a weird snarkiness about it, like during the scene where Paul and TJ attend a grief counseling group. We witness the misery and depression of two parents who lost their daughter. The scene comes across in an oddly mocking way; I don’t think we’re supposed to giggle at the grieving parents, but the scene almost plays like a parody.

Even without the inconsistency of tone, the movie falters, mainly because it rarely seems to go anywhere. We’re supposed to see Hesher as some sort of positive influence in the end, I guess, but nothing he does appears to have an inspiring impact – well, not until the very end, at least. I don’t want to throw out spoilers, but Hesher does deliver a little soliloquy that helps TJ and Paul move past their loss.

Which we expect from a flick like this, but Hesher handles the transformation in a near-magical way. We go through the whole movie with Hesher as a psycho, and neither Paul nor TJ show any real signs of improvement. He throws out a trite message and miraculously, they get better virtually immediately.

Huh? Maybe Hesher really is meant to be a spoof of this kind of film. I don’t think so, however, so it ends up as a limp drama that tries too hard to be wild and different.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Hesher appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.44:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though not great, the transfer was mostly fine.

Sharpness was the only moderately erratic element. While much of the film exhibited good clarity, interiors and a few wide shots tended to be a bit soft. This wasn’t a huge issue, but it created some mild distractions. I noticed no issues with jaggies or moiré effects, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws also were absent, as the movie looked clean and fresh.

In terms of palette, the film opted for a semi-amber tone. This restricted overall broadness of the colors, but they looked fine within the limited range of hues. Blacks were dark and tight, and except for one short night-time shot, shadows looked clear and full. Nothing here dazzled, but the image was satisfactory.

I also felt reasonably pleased with the film’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack. The film started with arguably its showiest bit: a sequence in which TJ’s bicycle drove around the room. A later thunderstorm used the spectrum well, and some of Hesher’s acts of mayhem also gave depth to the presentation. The rest was fairly subdued but pleasing, as the audio used the spectrum in a positive manner.

No concerns with audio quality emerged. Speech was always natural and crisp, without edginess or other problems. Music was pretty full – Hesher’s preferred metal sounded good – and effects showed nice range and punch. All of this was good enough for a “B”.

Only a handful of extras appear. A Behind the Scenes featurette runs seven minutes,11 seconds and provides notes from actor/producer Natalie Portman, writer/director Spencer Susser, and actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Devin Brochu, and Rainn Wilson. They discuss aspects of the story and characters. Some decent shots from the set emerge, but we don’t learn a lot about the production.

Five Deleted Scenes fill a total six minutes, 55 seconds. Some of these offer a bit more exposition, especially one that depicts how TJ and his dad have been absent from society. The others tend to provide extensions to existing scenes but don’t add much pertinent information.

We also locate a collection of Outtakes. This set goes for 28 minutes, 33 seconds and shows shots from the set with an emphasis on bloopers. Almost half an hour of the standard goofs and giggles? Yeah, pretty much. Some other glimpses of the shoot do appear, but most of the reel falls into the laugh-oriented domain. Gag reels tend to get tedious after three or four minutes, so more than 28 minutes of this stuff becomes a real chore to watch. I will admit the segments Rainn Wilson are pretty good, though.

Under a Hesher Sketch Gallery, we get 33 screens of material. These show the crude drawings the film attributes to its lead character. I saw enough of these in the actual movie, but if you want another way to view them, go for it.

Air Traffic lasts two minutes, nine seconds. It offers a compilation of all the flick’s shots affected by passing planes. We view 34 of these – with a final weed-whacker interruption thrown in for good measure. It’s not the most fascinating thing I’ve seen, but it’s kind of fun.

The disc opens with ads for Everything Must Go, Kick-Ass, Brothers and Lord of War. We get these under Also from Lionsgate and find the trailer for Hesher, too. Finally, teaser channels goes for 24 seconds and shows a quick promo for the movie.

A drama about grief that attempts to deliver something unusual, Hesher flops. It tends to seem aimless and doesn’t bother to explore its themes or characters well. The Blu-ray comes with pretty good picture and audio as well as a smattering of supplements. Hesher tries to add attitude to a sentimental genre but fails to do so in a compelling manner.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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