Sundance 2014: “Hits” – Review by MovieManMenzel

David Cross takes a stab at celebrity obsessed culture and political protests with Hits

Let me start off this review by stating that this film is a political and media satire, which are things that I long for when I am watching a film. I am fascinated and frustrated with what becomes popular in the media as well as the insanity of right wing vs. left wing politics. Hits is a satire that mocks the current state of internet culture, citizen protestors like tea parties and occupy groups, and last, but not least, takes aim at teenagers obsessed with famous people and wanting fame. The film is written and directed by David Cross, who is definitely someone that I often find to be funny.

Hits focuses on several different characters while telling a story that will eventually bring all them together. The primary focus is on Katelyn Stuben (), a small town girl with big dreams. She fantasizes about being on Ellen and becoming a famous singer. Her father Dave (), on the other hand, is someone who constantly goes to city counsel meetings to express his rights as an American citizen. One day, someone posts a video about Dave that gets viewed by the leader of the social movement group, ThinkTank. This group sees Dave as someone who is all about standing up for what he believes in so they decide to support his effort by creating a video on YouTube. It is here where the film begins to poke fun at fame, the media, and politics in today’s America.

This is a film that I should have absolutely loved, however, its a film that left me extremely disappointed. The film is full of things that are so incredibly ripe for comedy, but Cross misses the mark almost every time. The movie opens with this scene of Katelyn pretending to do an interview with Ellen and then begins to showcase her obsession with becoming famous. The movie talks about people being famous, even if they don’t have talent, but it is handled in a way that isn’t comedic or interesting. It pokes fun at celebrity sex tapes, youtube videos, Teen Mom, and the Voice, but there really is nothing funny about any of this and this is only one part of the story.

The other part of the film is focused on Katelyn’s father Dave, who because of various YouTube videos that get uploaded, starts a media frenzy in the small town of Liberty, New York. Dave’s footage showcases him ranting at various local city counsel meetings about things like the first amendment and the government not taking care of things like potholes in the community. This storyline pokes fun at people like Alex Jones and Glen Beck as well as right wingers, who live and breathe all things America.

I think the biggest issue with Hits is that it plays everything too safe. This film reminded me a lot of, God Bless America, which poked fun at similar things, but managed to do so in a much more effective manner. America was a lot more daring and because of that it worked so much better. It almost felt like some of the moments in God Bless America were taken right out of that film and reimagined in Hits. One of the film’s best moments is near the end where Dave is talking about his feelings on live television. This scene as well as a few others feel very similar to God Bless America.

I will admit that at times that Hits does try to be edgy but it just can’t do it. There is a scene where Katelyn doesn’t have enough money to record a demo and is forced to do something in order to record it. Its not even remotely shocking but rather predictable. There are so many conversations about people being famous without having talent that are brought up within the film that when the film addresses the topic within the characters that the film is focusing on, it isn’t even remotely shocking nor funny.

Besides most of the jokes falling flat, I feel like the movie has way too many characters for its own good. We have , and various others, who are all in this film yet their characters serve no real purpose. The Erinn Hayes character doesn’t even get her story resolved. Cross explained during the Q&A that they were intially going to do something with the character during the end credits, however, due to the way they decided to end the film they decided to axe it. That is just one of the many plot holes within the film. Honestly, there are just so many pointless moments and character within Hits that even at 92 minutes, it feels bloated.

Other than  and the film’s conclusion, which was predictable but still amusing, I honestly don’t think there is anything good about this film. I love satire and I love all the subjects that Cross was trying to poke fun of, however, everything about this film was a misfire. It just didn’t feel fresh and I feel like the movie tried to make fun of so much and follow so many people that you didn’t get committed to anything going on. It’s a shame because God Bless America was very similar and was hilarious, but this film was just painful to sit through.

All in all, I highly doubt that Hits will get a major release. It will probably make its way to a few indie theaters and a VOD release eventually, but I don’t see it making it to a wide release. It’s not worth paying for, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend seeing it in theaters, if it does make it there. I honestly do like David Cross and find him to be incredibly funny and odd. This film, however, just misses the mark completely. The most interesting thing to note is that the Q&A which followed the screening was hilarious and Cross said more edgy things during that 20 minutes then this entire film did in 92. I feel bad ripping this film, but honestly it sucked and isn’t worth your time or money. I say avoid it at all costs and that is if you even remember it after Sundance.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Hits is a 3 out of 10.

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