The first interaction I had with actor Ryan Reynolds was during mid-afternoon reruns of Van Wilder movies on Comedy Central. Reynolds, as Wilder, was self-assured, insightful, witty and good-looking.
The still-incredibly attractive actor returns to U.S. box offices pulling a 180, awkwardly strolling through a black comedy gold mine in a bright pink pair of coveralls.
Reynolds plays Jerry, a schizophrenic average Joe, in director Marjane Satrapi’s most recent work, “The Voices.”
Jerry, who works as a bathtub factory worker, still sees his court-appointed psychiatrist, but has purposefully ignored his anti-psychotic prescription for some time, leaving him to the company of his cat Mr. Whiskers and his massive Boxer Bosco — both of which talk to him.
Mr. Whiskers begins degrading Jerry from the moment he comes home, staring intently and speaking through a furry Irish accent, spoken by Reynolds. Reynolds also voices his redneck dog, who, as man’s best friend, greets his owner with love and reassurance that Jerry is a good man.
It’s weird enough seeing Reynolds do something dark, but it’s even weirder seeing him do it well. Reynolds is unapologetically creepy in Satrapi’s new horror-comedy.
Maybe it’s the neon-pink coveralls splattered with fresh blood. Maybe it’s him awkwardly hitting on the new British girl in accounting. Maybe it’s him chasing his supposed love interest through the damp woods behind a burger joint, stabbing and gutting her in the end.
Yes, that happens.
Throughout the film, Mr. Whisker’s words hit hard against Jerry’s delicate psyche and begin to make him question whether he truly is good or if he possibly liked taking someone’s life a little too much.
The severed head of his crush Fiona, played by Gemma Arterton, resides in his refrigerator for the rest of the film and offers advice, cheerfully suggesting that he bring her friends, as it gets pretty lonely lying next to bologna and curdling milk.
Jerry’s addiction to murder becomes increasingly difficult to ignore. As the film draws to a close, his actions take him to dark places where even Bosco — who stuck by his side when two of his co-worker’s heads sat smiling in the fridge — begins to question his master’s intentions.
I say “horror-comedy” earlier in this review, but aside from some mild gore, there’s really nothing scary about “The Voices,” unless creepy men who spout off Bible trivia while driving down a dark dirt road isn’t your cup of tea.
The film is mainly funny and, as a die-hard “American Psycho,” “The Cable Guy” and “Shaun of the Dead” fan, “The Voices” was right up my alley and didn’t disappoint. I even got to see Anna Kendrick, who’s acting I enjoy to no end.
Still curious as to why Reynolds agreed to play such a new role for him, I did some research. According to an interview between the actor and the Toronto Star, he sought out “The Voices.”
“I wasn’t asked to do it,” he said. “I chased it. There’s a thing in Hollywood called ‘The Blacklist,’ which is a list of all the great — supposedly unproduceable — screenplays. This was on it and I read it and I thought it was the most entertaining, unusual, dark and genre-bending script I had ever read. I had to do it.”
I watched “The Voices” again after I read the interview’s transcript and really noticed how passionate Reynolds seemed about playing Jerry.
Sure, the Van Wilder character was great, but Reynolds was young and you could see that wasn’t really him, or at least I could.
But here, for whatever reason I may not want to know, he flourished in such a morbidly delicious fashion that this movie has now taken a spot on my top black comedies list.
“The Voices” is now showing in selected theaters and through on demand services. The film is rated R for bloody violence and some language, including sexual references.