Postal (2008)
By: Paul Ryan on July 22, 2008  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Director: Uwe Boll
Cast: Zack Ward, Dave Foley, Jackie Tohn, Verne Troyer
Screenplay: Uwe Boll, Bryan C. Knight
Country: USA/Germany
Running Time: 109 minutes
To anyone who has sat through House of the Dead, the idea of Uwe Boll making a comedy is probably redundant, but here we are with Postal. Here the good doctor pretty much gives the finger to everything and everyone in sight.

Postal is adapted from a controversial 1997 video game which was – like its 2003 sequel - banned by Australian censors. Ergo, I can't really compare it to the game, though from what I've read, it's anarchic nhillism would seem – at least on paper - an ideal fit for a director eager to aggressively stick it to his detractors.

The plot of Postal is barely worth describing, but here goes: Poor-but-nice trailer dweller Dude (Zack Ward) reluctantly teams up with his uncle, a sleazy doomsday-cult leader with tax problems (Dave Foley) and his harem of busty acolytes, to hijack a shipment of decidedly age-inappropriate kids toys ("Krotchy Dolls") and sell them on line. It just so happens that this shipment is also coveted by none other than the Taliban – led by an American accented Osama Bin Laden (Larry Thomas, Seinfeld's Soup Nazi) – who want to spread avian flu inside the dolls. Naturally, the ineptitude of both sides leads to mass slaughter, a kidnapped, sex-toy-wielding Verne Troyer, and the threat of armageddon, and… Ah, I really can't be bothered continuing.

Playing like a Troma movie with a bigger budget and better cinematography, Postal is without a doubt the most willfully tasteless American film since Tom Green's infamous Freddy Got Fingered. Pretty much every single line is crossed here. You want promiscuous women barfing up semen? You got it. Jokes about 9/11? Check. You want small children being machine-gunned gruesomely? Check. The bloke who played Mini-Me getting gang-raped by hundreds of monkeys? You better believe you've got that!

The problem with Postal is that it forgets to be genuinely clever with all the naughtiness. For every gag that works, about five don't. Some of the jokes are funny in a I-can't-believe-they-just-did-that way, but the cumulative effect of all the grotesquerie is simply numbing. There's little irony or real wit, just an endless barrage of grossness and noise. The movie's attempts at political satire are old-hat at best (George W. Bush is presented as a lego-playing stumblebum who was in on 9/11 with his ol' buddy Osama) or simply too obvious to be funny (such as the criminal waste of J.K. Simmons as a LaRouche-esque conspiracy nutter).

If there's anything that redeems Postal, it's the cast, who all give it one hundred and ten percent. Consisitng of a mix of Boll veterans (Ward, Chris Coppola, Ralf Moeller, Michaela Mann, Michael Paré) and familiar character players (Foley, Simmons, Thomas, Seymour Cassell, David Huddleston), everyone is clearly having a damn good time. Ward is a good straight man for all the mounting craziness, and Foley is engaging and downright fearless (viz his extended full-frontal nude scene). The design is an amusing mix of the colourful and grimy, suiting the cruddy setting of Paradise City.

Boll's much publicsied boxing matches (where he knocked out five of his critics) didn't make it into the film, but the good doctor does appear as himself (running a tacky theme park called "Little Germany"), claiming his movies are funded with Nazi gold and declaring that he "f***ing hates video games". His brawl with Postal game creator Vince Desidero is a definite comic highlight, even if the director's "acting" isn't especially good.

Ultimately though, what genuine laughs there are fade from memory pretty quickly, replaced by a feeling of fatigue and slight nausea, and compounded by the film's relentlessly scattershot approach. It's strangely ironic that a director known for making (presumably) unintentionally bad movies manages to mess up a movie that is supposed to bad. Reminiscent of the lesser episodes of South Park, but about six times as long, this gets one full star for the cast, half a star for the gags that work, and another half star for sheer nerve.

NOTE: Postal recently made its Australian debut at ACMI's Feast of Fury movie marathon, but no other theatrical screenings are scheduled yet. I'd wager that it's more likely to show up here on DVD in the near future.
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