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‘Butt Boy’ Review: A huge asshole rules this solid comedy

Butt Boy
Epic Pictures

There’s not really a canon of ass cinema, at least not in the fetishistic sense, but if there were, Tyler Cornack’s Butt Boy would probably be jockeying for the throne alongside such films as Brian Yuzna’s Society and basically the whole of David Cronenberg’s output. Its high-concept premise — in which a man discovers that he can put anything up his asshole, and then uses that magical ability to go on a serial murder rampage — is the stuff that Midnight Movie dreams are made of, which is to say that half of the fun of the film is having your own expectations for its contrast with what the movie actually is. On some level, it’s more entertaining to imagine the premise of Snakes on a Plane rather than to actually watch Snakes on a Plane, and the best high concept movies play on those expectations and generally surprise the viewer. Butt Boy isn’t really interested in doing that, as its too much of a genre pastiche to do anything much more ambitious than presenting its premise, but, then again: it’s a movie about a guy who can fit entire small children up his asshole.

That man is Chip Gutchell (who, of course, is played by the director himself), an IT guy who works at an off-brand corporation much like the one you’d see in a Mike Judge film. He’s got a wife and a kid that he doesn’t like too much, and he’s generally unhappy with most things in his life. But during a routine rectal exam, he discovers that he likes ass play, and eventually starts shoving some stuff up there. First, it’s a bar of soap, then it’s a remote control, then there’s a whole host of other household items, and, finally, he comes across a baby in a park and does the unthinkable. The cops come after him but ultimately can’t prove that he took the kid, but Chip’s had enough and attempts suicide. It’s this that forces him to see help, and he joins AA, using the cover of alcohol addiction to help him manage his addiction to shoving things up his ass.

Eight years later, Detective Russell Fox (Tyler Rice, who looks like the fused child of Robert de Niro and Joe Pesci) has hit rock bottom and joins a meeting. It’s there that he’s introduced to Chip, who ultimately becomes the detective’s sponsor. But, soon after they meet, Chip relapses and begins his experimentation again while also virtually abandoning his sponsee. These paths intersect when, on Bring Your Kid to Work Day at Chip’s office, a child disappears during a game of hide-and-seek. Russell is the detective assigned to the case, and after conducting a series of interviews, he begins to suspect that Chip must have something to do with it. He discovers pieces of dook scattered around other crime scenes and puts together a seemingly-impossible thesis, one which is immediately rejected by his bosses. But Russell trusts his gut and tries his best to put an end to Chip’s crime spree before any more children disappear.

Cornack’s particular brand of absurdist comedy owes a lot to Quentin Dupieux’s style, where the director introduces a truly bizarre and unstable element into a reasonably recognizable world and then plays it completely straight, and the juxtaposition makes for the comedy. A whole lot of the humor doesn’t come from dialogue or any outright comedic appeals, per se, it’s more about the collision of tones: seeing a grizzled cop react with fear to a man trying to suck his police vehicle into his asshole like it’s a stray cheerio in front of a Dirt Devil is going to be funny regardless of if you’ve penned laugh lines in there for the audience to hang on. But if you’re imitating seriousness for much of the runtime, you’re running an inherently risky operation — play it too safe, and you may bore the audience (and if there’s one thing you don’t want to be known for it would be taking a high concept like this and somehow failing to entertain a crowd) — and Cornack comes near that territory in his occasional faints at pathos. This isn’t to say that a more broad or “wacky” approach might have produced better results, it’s just one that might not vibe with a broader audience.

That said, as a parody of a specific genre — the serial killer playing a cat-and-mouse game with a dogged cop — Butt Boy offers a strong case for its sturdiness. Stretched to the limits, the structure helps the film remain, for the most part, amusing and engaging throughout, and it goes to enough wild places to be worth the journey. The third act, in particular, is something that I think a number of hardcore Adult Swim-styled stoner absurdists will jump for, where the film fully embraces the nuttiness of its premise fully, and, honestly, I’ve never been happier for a filmmaker to just finally be so firmly up his own ass. Butt Boy can’t really live up to the wildness of its premise, but it makes for entertaining viewing in its own right. And, honestly, this may be one of the best 4/20 viewing options in our current lockdown situation, so I’d highly recommend those currently slathered in cannabutter and whose apartments are permanently foggy with smoke give it a glance — you’ll have a decent amount of fun doing so.