I like Ryan Reynolds and I don’t give a shit who knows it. This isn’t to say I’m some Ryan Reynolds superman that sees everything that he’s in, but most of the time I see a movie that he’s in, he ends up being the best part. No, Green Lantern wasn’t that good, but for some many reasons other than him. In my opinion, Reynolds is like Chris Evans in that I’d gladly watch them both play any superhero ever because of their combination of dashing good looks and comedic timing. That being said, the only thing I knew about The Voices going in was that Ryan Reynolds was in it and there was something about him hearing his dog and cat talk to him. Having seen the movie, I can confirm that those plot points are accurate, but if you don’t like Ryan Reynolds, you’re not going to like this movie.
Jerry Hickfang (Reynolds) generally keeps to himself while working at a bathtub factory. Really the only friends he has are his dog and his cat, which might not seem like much, but when the voices inside your head are projected onto them, you can feel like a pretty popular guy. Jerry hasn’t been in the “real world” for all that long having only somewhat recently been let out of an institution for an incident involving the voices in his head. He regularly sees a psychiatrist to cope with the voices, but when he takes the medication that quiets the voices, the world feels too lonely so he opts for the voices over loneliness. Despite his loneliness, there are a few ladies that take a liking to him down at work, played by Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick, and it looks like maybe things will end up okay for Jerry after all. Unfortunately, the voices and his distorted perception of reality start to blur the line between acting like a normal guy, and, well, murdering people, and that’s when hilarity, and murdering, ensues! Good luck, Jerry!
I know it’s a really strange comparison, but have you seen Mike Judge’s movie Extract? This film felt very similar to that despite being completely different in tone and plot. The similarity between these two movies is that the entire time watching both films, I kept thinking, “This is funny,” despite never actually laughing. The humor is definitely there, and the humor might be too dark for some people, but I still found the movie entertaining. Reynolds was front and center in practically every scene of this movie and he carried that weight well, but any time you have a character attempted to hold back their mania results in a strange performance. Had Reynolds been over-the-top bonkers throughout the whole film, the audience probably would’ve become exhausted and the character would have been far less likable. The tone fits the subject matter pretty well, but finding that balance between humor and violence is always a big challenge.
The first audience member to speak up during the Q & A with director Marjane Satrapi brought up his disappoint with the way in which mental illness was handled. Satrapi handled the question as delicately as she could, mentioning the fact that she knew that there are people who do deal with these mental issues so she tried her best to make the lead character as likable as possible in every way she could. She also mentioned that this film isn’t a documentary. Once these points were brought up, it does say something about the way mental disorders are handled in that in most cases, patients have to sacrifice their connections with reality in order to get by each day or be forced to take medications that leave them unhappy. In that respect, I think The Voices does say something about how we view individuals with psychological issues, no matter what the severity. Sure, the story was told through a shithead cat and a cool-ass dog and that guy from Van Wilder, but even if the only result is that audiences connect with the lead character and finds them to be a likable person, mental issues might have less of a scary stigma around them and can be embraced by the general public a little more easily. Unless of course you meet someone with a mental illness who owns a dog AND a cat because then you’ll know they’re really fucked up for owning a cat in the first place.
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