Studio: Magnet Releasing
Director: Jacob Vaughan
Writer: Benjamin Hayes, Jacob Vaughan
Producer: Adele Romanski, Gabriel Cowan, John Suits
Stars: Ken Marino, Gillian Jacobs, Patrick Warburton, Mary Kay Place, Stephen Root, Peter Stormare
The daily stress of a blue-collar family man manifests itself as a devilish creature that lives inside his colon.
Remember that classic “Saturday Night Live” sketch “Theodoric of York?” Steve Martin played a medieval barber practicing medicine in the Middle Ages. In boasting about recent medical advancements circa the year 1303, Martin’s Theodoric exclaims, “just fifty years ago we would have thought your daughter’s illness was brought on by demonic possession or witchcraft.” After he and Jane Curtain chuckle at the outdated notion, Theodoric adds, “but nowadays, we know that Isabelle is suffering from an imbalance of bodily humors perhaps caused by a toad or small dwarf living in her stomach.” “Bad Milo” is that joke visualized as a full horror comedy feature, except that the small dwarf is now a demon and the stomach has been swapped for a colon.
Resembling a handsomer version of Ray Romano with a less nasally voice and a small dash of Nathan Fillion to boot, Ken Marino is Duncan, an ordinary Johnny Lunchpail with the extraordinary affliction of possessing a demon that lives in his colon. This particular creature, Milo, has a tendency to tear himself loose and then tear apart another person whenever Duncan’s stress levels peak. With mounting pressures to start a family and a new job at work conducting layoffs from an office in the men’s room, Milo is seeing increased opportunities to be unleashed for a killing spree before returning to hibernation in Duncan’s intestinal tract.
“Bad Milo” has its own digestive tract of comedy that features a large intestine of toilet humor and a small intestine that is not as overt about its laughs. In fact, “Bad Milo” is occasionally much funnier than it gives itself credit for. Many of the best jokes are slyly hidden in the dialogue and in nuances of the performances. Yet the emphasis for netting chuckles is overwhelmingly on the rectal pain of Milo going in and out of Ken Marino’s anus while loud sounds from a wet whoopee cushion provide an accompanying soundtrack.
While “Bad Milo” may appeal to an audience appreciative of plentiful poop jokes, it is a shame that the script and the direction did not do more to play up the less obvious comedy. Subtleties in character portrayals like Toby Huss as Dr. Yeager are scene stealers with the dialogue delivery and facial expressions. Duncan’s youthful father-in-law and a fertility doctor dinner guest are just as hysterical, although their material is more apparent. In between the two spectrums are solid visual gags that do not always have to resort to brown smears on clothing for eliciting a smirk. After all, it is difficult to not laugh at the notion of a lucky rabbit’s foot being included in a job termination’s severance package.
For those less in-your-face jokes, it is either out of respect for the audience to “get it,” or poor filmmaking that the movie at times forgets to draw more attention to itself. Especially since drawing attention to itself is something that “Bad Milo” can do quite well. Particularly, it seems as though director Jacob Vaughan gave much of his cast free reign to let loose with their roles. Given the resumes of its cast, that might be a good idea on paper, but not one that worked out in practice.
Peter Stormare does what Peter Stormare usually does, which is playing a zany eccentric who is typically reserved except for those unpredictable moments of explosiveness. Stephen Root gives his own take on a hippie deadbeat dad living in a shack in the woods. And Patrick Warburton is the slimy boss with a slick mouth and condescending charm. Individually, they work okay. As a total package, there is a unifying comedic timing absent from “Bad Milo” since each scene is left to its own devices.
As can already be garnered from the plot description, enjoyment of “Bad Milo” is largely dependent upon how much humor someone finds in the concept of a colon creature. If that person laughs at cries of constipation and the sounds of toilet water splashing, then all the better. Yet as a well-rounded comedy, “Bad Milo” is missing a snappier pace and more confidence in intelligent jokes that would have given it a broader appeal.
Review Score: 65