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quietearth [Film Festival 10.28.09] movie review comedy



Year: 2009
Directors: Jerry Thompson & Mike Thompson
Writers: Jerry Thompson & Mike Thompson
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Rick McGrath
Rating: 8 out of 10

C/U of a road from the front of a moving car’s POV. The yellow line flickers. Thunder roars in the distance. We hear a voice:
“I’m just saying it’s weird, man, that’s all.”
“OK, big deal, it’s weird. So what.”
“So, it’s sad, man, I mean there’s a lot of interesting things going on, but we’re so isolated, so detached that we can’t even tell… and what’s worse? We can tell, and we don’t even care. Nobody cares, and that’s exactly the problem”.

The car slows as it passes what appears to be a big lumberjack partially dressed as a Viking. The suggestion is made that, for example, this guy may be interesting.

“So, what are you suggesting? That we just follow that guy around all day? Life isn’t a movie… you just can’t cut to whoever you want.”
“Yeah, well it should be.”


Moral: be careful what you wish for, because in Thor At The Bus Stop that very line launches us into an often hilarious, always funny existential laugher about the meaning of life in an idiotic, self-centered, uncaring, unhappy world. Told as a sort of monty pythonesque sketch comedy, Thor At The Bus Stop takes us through the interrelated day of a whole neighbourhood of mostly bummed out loser loonies as they follow a chain of action initiated by Thor, the Norse God of Thunder, who this day will die after winning an epic battle to save the earth. Even though pretty well nobody knows, nobody cares.

And why would they know or care? What a depressing neighbourhood it is... part lifeless subdivision, latino ghetto, industrial area, freeway and corner store, our unnamed everyplace is surrounded by desert and mountains, and seems to generate a high degree of eccentricity, if the local inhabitants are any indication. And you won’t forget them. Each makes their first appearance with a big freezeframe introduction: Big Zed and Little Fred (they steal lunch boxes from kids), Ultra Stan The Everyman (he delivers pizzas), Passenger Seat Pete (he’s totally submissive) Bernard Barnard (the idiot TV reporter), Lester (he spends the entire movie with a yield sign thru his chest), White Trash Chuck (desperately wants to be cool), Detective Mergatroy (only wants to be on TV), One Way Walter (the coolest guy around, even if he hijacks cars), Beat Nick (the poet) and many many more oddball characters. Is there action? Well, yes, things happen, but mainly this is a story of interaction as the mainly handheld camera follows this myriad of motley characters in their chance meetings and endless overlaps. This is a very small world. The story’s philosophic concerns – and there are many – are hilariously discussed and expanded throughout many scenes by virtually all the characters, and while that’s clever, most of them reveal at least a sophomoric understanding of existential ideas even though their appearance strongly suggests otherwise. This dichotomy twixt action and dialogue is one of the more deeply funny aspects of Thor – but don’t worry, there’s lots of cheap laughs for the drunks in the pits, especially sight gags, situation inversions, lots of physical humour and good old kick-in-the-nuts satire.

Shot on a miniscule budget – at least it looks that way – and featuring tons of continuity problems (there’s a huge visual gaffe around 4 minutes in), Thor the movie also suffers a tad from the usual shoestring bugaboo: bad acting from people who are not really actors. The problem is alleviated somewhat by the fact there’s a zillion actors in this flick, and the action flows fairly well from short scene to scene, so nobody really gets to be bad for too long, and surprisingly, after awhile the magic thing happens that gives this movie its lift – you actually start caring for these people, dumb and klutzy as they are, because part of their dumbness is their ironic placement in the movie. Somehow their lack of knowledge tends to justify their lack of artistry. On a more basic level, this blending of badness is exemplified in a classic scene where we’re shown a TV truck with an obviously cheap, homemade dish on top of it. It’s so bad one of the characters ridicules it to the TV crew, and then we all see it in a totally different, symbolic way. If I had a gripe I’d say the movie could be trimmed a tad, as some of the scenes do want to drag out past their expiry points. Sometimes the slowish pace works, but often it simply feels milked.

Thor At The Bus Stop was written and directed by Mike and Jerry Thompson, who also star as White Trash Chuck and Thor. Yeah, they’re good. I think they also shot and probably messed with the editing, too. I’d like to see more from these cats, as this movie generates a kind of sophistication beyond its basic plot. The Thompsons have created a sort of weird combination of, say, Airplane and Life of Brian. Thor delights in visual madness, sight gags and buffoonery, while still maintaining a quasi-intellectual edge, with large doses of satire, political and social, and something completely different – an intelligent backbone to harness the skits together – because this isn’t a movie about Thor, but about how his inadvertent actions influence and effect others.

And after all this angst and existential mayhem? Appropriately enough, the whole philosophic point of Thor At The Bus Stop appears to be summed up by One Way Walter: “There’s only two ways to act. Just two ways. Either be cool. Or not.” He says it during the action, and he repeats it during the movie’s quaintly stylized ending, so you know it’s important. Will anyone follow his advice? See this movie and decide for yourself. Oh, and remember to bring exact change, OK?

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agentorange (8 years ago) Reply

From the sounds of it, whether 'Thor at the Bus Stop' is good or bad is almost irrelevant. The fact that something this strange and smart could come out coherently at all is probably the main thing.

I haven't seen the film yet, but from what I'm hearing these guys are certainly up-and-comers. Great review.

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Frankie D (8 years ago) Reply

Hey all, i would like to see Thor at the Bus Stop. i have read The Long Dark Tea Time of The Soul(douglas adams) which heavily involves Thor, and i thought it was hilarious. Does anyone here know how I might find the film? initial search yielded no results. Much thanks, FD

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Anonymous (8 years ago) Reply

Check out thoratthebusstop.com. They have information on the DVD there. OH, and it's an amazing movie. I've seen it twice now and intend on buying it and watching it frequently.

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DW (8 years ago) Reply

I loved this film. At times it does slows just a bit and then suddenly hits you in the face with wit and charm and by the end you are smiling so big your face hurts. Must see! And the score and music from LV bands is delicous.


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