DISCLAIMER: I will have a video review with RagTagRiot later this evening so stay tuned!
War is just not a funny thing when you look at it through a literal eye, but there are stories that can be told through comedy to highlight the horrors of the behind-the-scenes stories that war creates, and that is what goes down in Todd Phillips’ (The Hangover trilogy) latest film starring Miles Teller and Jonah Hill. In the true life story of two childhood friends, Teller and Hill just so happen to find each other after years of no real contact. Efraim Diveroli (Hill) recruits his once good friend into doing some interesting business with him to get them both rich and help David Packouz (Teller) feed his family.
I didn’t expect much from this film when I went into the empty theater (by myself with no one in sight) at an 11 a.m. showing which may have been the best thing I could have done because I enjoyed the hell out of this movie. It fused Wolf of Wall Street with Lord of War to give us a less violent styling of Pain and Gain. Whether you like any of those films or not is up to you, but I’m selling myself on the comparisons and I’m sure after you see the film you will say I was dead on. It’s chaotic, stylized fun with a specific (while censored) story to tell about these two 20 something “war dogs” who changed the game of war profiteering forever.
Their characters are equally captivating thanks to exceptional performances from both Hill and Teller with a line that doesn’t need to get crossed for either actor or character to be interesting. I’ve seen Whiplash and I know what Miles Teller can do, I won’t hold The Divergent series against him, and I’ve seen Jonah Hill go from the fat funny guy to the fat funny guy who can act his ass off. With that said, I think this is Jonah Hill’s best performance to date… I know that’s crazy because he has roles in Moneyball and Wolf of Wall Street, but what makes this role stand out for me is the lack of moral clarity his character delivers to audiences. He’s the money hungry lunatic without a real code of ethics for himself to follow while Teller’s David becomes the foil to that personality throughout the film. It’s insanity with a backbone that you want to keep watching, but the film literally falls short at just 1 hour 54 minutes.
Beyond the short(ish) run-time of the film, I think it’s actually a really entertaining and enthralling film with a unique narrative to bring us, but this very much could have been a Wolf of Wall Street length film if it wanted too for the amount of content it could have covered, but it chooses a more “let’s not confuse them too much” narrative which explains a few too many details directly to us with voice over work along with a chapter system, and I say pick one. Keep in mind, that was not something that even bothered me, but we have to give our audience more credit than that to allow us to decode the plot on our own once it’s there. I wanted more plot and story because it was a good story with exceptional acting from two of the talented younger actors of our era and they can both carry a movie on their backs and I am happy they get the chances to shine more in films like these in the future. Jonah Hill plays a great anti-hero of sorts and Teller makes a spectacular straight man as well as doing unhinged unlike too many actors his age and I hope they bring us more roles like these.
P.s. Jonah Hill needs to play a DC villain i.e. The Penguin or something because he’s magnetic as ever and Miles Teller needs to not do Fant4stic…