Friday, October 04, 2013

Bad Milo: Somebody Needs More Fiber

What do you get when you cross Joe Dante’s Gremlins with a lower intestinal infection from Hell?  His name is Milo and he lives up Duncan Hayslip’s’ backside. You really do not want to see him come out, but that happens when you stress out his host.  The hemorrhoidal hulk will rage in Jacob Vaughan’s Bad Milo! (trailer here), which opens today in New York.

Hayslip has a new set of responsibilities at work—laying people off.  He also has a new office—an almost converted men’s room, which he shares with an annoying colleague.  His wife is always on his case about starting a family, while his mother carries on with her boy toy.  Gastrointestinally, he is not doing so well.  It turns out, that is Milo.  When Hayslip is sufficiently agitated, Milo attacks.

Thanks to the help of his eccentric therapist’s hypnosis sessions, Hayslip discovers his inner demon.  However, he can only hope to contain him, so to speak, because Milo is a part of him.  Without Milo, he would be like Good Kirk without Bad Kirk.  Nonetheless, controlling Milo will be quite a trick.

While there are healthy servings of gore and gross-out humor, Bad Milo is not nearly as scatological as one would easily assume. Oddly enough, it a largely character driven affair, deriving most of its laughs from a slightly skewed perspective on very real world concerns.  Still, let’s not kid ourselves—it is genre fans who want to see a rampaging butt-monster that will turn out for Bad Milo, rather than those looking for this generation’s Death of a Salesman.

The State alumnus Ken Marino is likably grounded as Hayslip, selling the uncomfortable concept as well as anyone could hope. Following in the wake of some befuddling casting choices (like say, a redneck in Jewtopia), Peter Stormare sort of seems to fit as Highsmith, hamming it up with enthusiasm. As a puppet-creature, Milo is also pretty effective, with variants designed by Mike Ezell for scenes of slimy bedlam as well as New Agey teaching moments.

Clearly, Vaughan and co-writer Benjamin Hayes want Bad Milo to be considered some sort of oh-so in-the-now commentary on the current age of economic uncertainty, but people have gotten ulcers for centuries, for a host of reasons.  It never lands a knockout punch, but it certainly has its moments.  Bizarrely endearing, Bad Milo! is recommended cult film connoisseurs when it opens today (10/4) in New York at the Cinema Village.