New Indie Releases: Butt Boy (2020) - Reviewed

It's difficult to find a movie that feels original, containing things we have rarely, if ever, seen on-screen before. Butt Boy is that kind of movie. It is a comedy/mystery/thriller about two men dealing with addiction, using a disarmingly straight-faced tone. It takes its bizarre story surprisingly seriously considering the plot outline, giving it time to properly develop. That could have turned out to be boring if the joke did not work. Here, the deadpan approach to the material makes it funnier. The keys are solid lead performances and a screenplay that effectively mimics the feel of detective stories, stretching it way past where it should have been able to go. While the plot of Butt Boy may have made for an obnoxious gross-out comedy, it is very entertaining in this form.

I cannot go any further without directly addressing the premise: Detective Russell Fox is investigating a missing child case when he begins to suspect that Chip, his AA sponsor, is responsible. Meanwhile, Chip has become obsessed with sticking things up his butt.

It sounds absurd, and it is. However, Butt Boy is presented almost as a dual character study, instead of a parade of wacky gags. It is not unlike something you could find on Adult Swim at 1am; an increasingly peculiar story with touches of surrealism, that never winks at its audience or implies that the characters are in on the joke. It drags at some points and the payoffs take a long time to come. But the style and performances kept me engaged.

Chip is played by Tyler Cornack, who directed and co-wrote, with Ryan Koch (they also teamed up on the moody and suspenseful music, perfect for the faux-noir style). Chip is bored at work and has a passionless marriage. His addiction is the only thing that gives him energy. Cornack plays him as an emotionally empty guy with little to live for besides shoving things in his butt. A lot of time is given to his relationship with his wife, Anne, helping to establish his depression.

The most impressive thing about the screenplay is it does not use Chip or his compulsion as one-note gags. It does not psychologically explore him, though it shows enough to let us understand why he might be driven to drink or do drugs. It just so happens he was driven to inserting things in his butt. This is far from a realistic story; it takes Chip’s addiction to ridiculous extremes even before it leaps way over the top for the climax. Still, the consistency of the tone and characterizations stops it from becoming a cartoon.

Russell, played by Tyler Rice, does not get as much detail. He is a familiar type: the damaged detective trying to redeem himself by solving a big case. Butt Boy does not get as deep into him, but Rice creates enough of an individual just through mannerisms. That is why this succeeds as much as it does: Chip, Russell and Anne are all as believable as necessary, even if they are sometimes (intentionally, it seems) stereotypes. The craziness is so understated most of the way that it allows them to tell an actual story.

Butt Boy has the makings of a cult movie. It is slow, off-beat and applies a wild premise to a tone so serious you may not always be sure if it is trying to be funny. I appreciate an attempt at something different and I have not seen anything quite like this. It is amusing, odd, gross (though kind of restrained much of the way) and compelling, if you can get on its wavelength. You might know where it is going, yet it does not get there exactly how you expect. If you see only one movie about a detective investigating a guy who secretly enjoys putting things up his butt, make it Butt Boy.

Butt Boy will be available on VOD platforms on April 14th. 

-Ben Pivoz