Bad Milo Movie Review
Written by Ted McCarthy
Released by Magnet Releasing
Directed by Jacob Vaughan
Written by Benjamin Hayes and Jacob Vaughan
2013, 85 minutes, Rated R
Ken Marino as Ken
Peter Stormare as Highsmith
Gillian Jacobs as Sarah
Patrick Warburton as Phil
While it’s difficult to know who first said it, there’s an old quote that goes, “Death is easy. Comedy is hard.” And while the humorists and performers who use and stand by this adage mean that it’s sometimes easier to die than be funny, horror filmmakers know its meaning too, albeit in a slightly different context. By bombarding audiences with excessive on-screen carnage, it's easier to evoke disgust rather than laughs, to affect the bile ducts before the tear ducts, and to go for the throat as opposed to the heart.
And yet, much to my surprise, there is a lot of heart to be found in Bad Milo. However, you have to wade through possibly the most juvenile story imaginable to get to it. The plot is extremely simple: Ken (Ken Marino) is an ordinary guy who faces an extraordinary amount of stress. His shady boss (Patrick Warburton) transfers him from his accounting job to human resources for the sole purpose of having him fire people. His mother is re-married to a guy even younger than he is. And his wife Sarah (Gillian Jacobs) desperately wants to have a baby. The pressure is taking its toll on his body, particularly his stomach, leading to several scenes of him rushing to the toilet to drop a maddeningly loud and painful deuce. It’s the type of scene used countless times in teen comedies, and it’s probably the cheapest laugh one can go for. He is told he has a polyp, and to manage his stress he visits Highsmith (Peter Stormare), the stereotypically kooky hypnotherapist who of course is the only one who can help him.
One night, though, a particularly rough bowel movement leads to the release of a tiny clawed, fang-toothed creature that leaves Ken passed out on the bathroom floor while it scurries off and eviscerates one of Ken’s scumbag coworkers (the murder, and each subsequent one, is attributed by the media to a rabid raccoon). It turns out that the creature, which Ken and Highsmith name Milo, is a manifestation of Ken’s subconscious, born from years of Ken suppressing his anger and resentment. Ken ends up bonding with the little guy, but Milo’s bloodlust becomes increasingly harder to control.
The film is highly reminiscent of Frank Henenlotter’s classic (to use the term loosely) body horror films like Brain Damage, and more specifically Basket Case. That latter 1982 film involved a nice guy who walked around New York with a wicker basket carrying his tiny, clawed Siamese twin. And like Milo, that little monster didn’t tolerate those who crossed them.
As I said before, on paper it sounds like a one-note gross-out comedy, and in some ways it is. The laughs are mostly derived from yucky toilet humor, and they do unfortunately taper off towards the end when the “drama” amps up (and the filmmakers realize there are only so many times you can show Milo crawling in and out of Ken’s behind before it starts to get grating). However, the film is anchored by a standout performance by Ken Marino (TV’s criminally short-lived Party Down), who plays a loveable lout better than almost anyone. His supporting cast is solid as well, with Stormare doing his standard oddball thing and Warburton playing the smarmy backstabber who we just know is gonna get it worse than anyone.
It’s not comic gold, and the one-joke premise does wear thin after a while. But thanks to some great and heartfelt performances and a brisk running time of only 85 minutes, Milo actually ain’t so bad.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.