Since I’m such a Hollywood big shot, this is a movie that isn’t coming out for a couple of months in limited release but I got to view it early since I have important opinions. Despite this movie clearly being called “Serving Up Richard“, I couldn’t help but repeatedly confuse it for Looking for Richard, which is about Al Pacino trying to put on one of Shakespeare’s stage productions. The biggest reason for the confusion was because up until writing this review, I kept thinking that movie was called “Searching for Richard”, which draws obvious titular comparisons. Where am I going with this? Oh yeah, I’m a Hollywood big shot, but Serving Up Richard neither stars Al Pacino nor does it have anything to do with Shakespeare. But as a warning, yes, there will be spoilers, so don’t say you haven’t been warned.
I kept thinking that this lady was a young woman wearing an old lady wig and makeup. Good job, Susan Priver!
Richard Reubens (Ross McCall) has recently relocated across the country because of some shenanigans (bad shenanigans) he was involved in that also caused a bunch of his coworkers to lose their jobs. Trying to regain the life of luxury he once had, Richard goes to check out a fancy used car, but rather than buying it, he is drugged and held in a makeshift jail cell. The fake seller, Everett Hutchins (Jude Ciccolella), is an anthropologist (yes!) who clearly has adopted some tribal rituals. Richard is unsure of why he is there, but Everett keeps making it sound like he is paying some sort of penance for things he has done and ensures Richard that he will be glad he endured this experience. Realizing there’s no escape on Everett’ terms, Richard tries to build a relationship with Everett’s wife Glory (Susan Priver) in hopes that she’ll help him escape. She tells Richard that Everett is a sort of shaman with powers over her, and the only way that either she or Richard will ever be free is if Richard becomes her shaman instead of Everett. The ritual works, and Everett is defeated inside Richard’s cage, but when Glory is capable of freeing Richard, she instead says she’s had a change of faith and leaves Richard behind. Some time later, probably weeks or months, we see the police show up to rescue Richard, who has been able to stay alive by eating Everett’s body, and we then see Glory going into a Christian church with a picture of Richard.
Sadly, there was no sexy through the bars sex scene. Maybe next time!
Considering this movie only featured three actors and was confined to only a few different rooms in a house, it was surprisingly engaging. It demonstrated that with a couple decent actors, a solid premise, and showing the aftermath of violence rather than the violent event, you can still make an entertaining movie. I don’t know if I’m right in doing so, but when a film is obviously operating with a smaller budget, I seem to give a little bit more leeway in regards to those elements of the story. If you make a “Hollywood” movie and all of your actors are shitty, I’m going to point it out because they probably could have afforded better. Despite none of the actors giving award winning performances, they were all giving consistent performances with one another and there weren’t any specific scenes/moments that were so bad/good that you were taken out of the film. Although, not the fault of Jude Ciccolella, there were multiple times where Everett quoted movies, and to have an anthropologist who is so engrossed in tribes and their customs, it took me out of the movie. One of these quotes was from Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now, and two others were from Jack Nicholson movies. Like I said, not the fault of Mr. Ciccolella as he didn’t write the movie, but there must not have been a Robert Duvall/Jack Nicholson impression segment of his audition for this movie.
I kept thinking “Wow, that is a really fake, terrible tattoo of a cross,” but the more I saw it, the more I thought it was real. IT CAN’T BE REAL, CAN IT?! NOOOO!!!!!!!!!
My biggest issue with the movie also happens to be what one of the biggest strengths of the movie, which was the plot. On the one hand, you had this strange guy, who kind of reminded me of what Marlon Brando’s character must have gone through in Apocalypse Now, in that he was capturing a character who we knew was flawed, and Everett seemed to be doing this for a higher purpose. I definitely think you’ll find that Serving Up Richard will keep you guessing, right up until the end. On the other hand, the ambiguity of the details meant that higher purpose was never really expanded upon, and we learned that the only reason that Richard was kept alive was because Glory wanted him to stay alive. There was a different character that came to check out the car who was immediately killed and eaten by Everett and Glory, and there was another scene showing the skulls of all the other people Everett and Glory killed/ate and were referred to as being part of their “family”. In some cultures, it is said that by eating another person, you absorb that person’s power, with that “power” having multiple definitions. Is that what was going on with Everett, considering he was a shaman and all? What did it matter if Richard had done bad things to get into this situation? Did Everett put a spell on the car that caused it to only attract people who had done bad things? I don’t always need everything spelled out for me, and typically enjoy films where the viewer has to figure out the answers for themselves, but the answers in Serving Up Richard were a little too vague for my tastes. Oh yeah, and I feel like at the end, when Glory goes to a Christian church, it was meant to be some sort of judgement on religion, but I didn’t quite understand what criticism they were trying to make. And I’m someone who loves those criticisms! Ahhh!
Wolfman Moon Scale