D: Jared Cohn / 98m
Cast: Jamie Kennedy, Sally Kirkland, Sara Malakul Lane, Steve Hanks, David Gere, Demetrius Stear, Richard Switzer, Milana Lev, Hiram A. Murray, Nicole Alexandra Shipley, HenRii Coleman, Harwood Gordon
Recovering alcoholic Buddy Hutchins (Kennedy) has a wife, Evelyn (Lane) and two kids, Joel (Switzer) and Molly (Lev). Thanks to the time when he was an alcoholic he has a dry cleaning business that’s on the verge of failing, his son hates him, his ex-wife (Shipley) is chasing him for unpaid alimony, and his relationship with his brother, Troy (Hanks) is on rocky ground. Only his daughter, his mother, Bertha (Kirkland), and his remaining employee, Ryan (Stear) actually like him. When Buddy discovers that his wife, who is a teacher, is having an affair with one of the other staff, Don (Gere), it’s the first in a long line of injustices and reversals of fortune that end up tipping him over the edge into murderous rage.
Along the way he’s locked out of his own house, forced to stay with his mother, see his dry cleaning business seized by the bank, he’s threatened by his ex-wife’s new boyfriend (Coleman), ends up in jail for harassment, loses custody of his children in divorce proceedings, has to deal with his mother’s hospital bill when she has a heart attack, learns his father whom he thought was dead is actually alive and is really his uncle (his uncle is actually his father), and loads more beside. He starts drinking again and decides that it’s time to take back control of his life… by killing anyone he feels has contributed to the mess his life has become. In possession of a gun and a chainsaw, Buddy begins to take his revenge, leading to a standoff with the police.
A low budget drama-cum-thriller-cum-occasional black comedy (with a budget so low that some of it was filmed in the director’s own home), Buddy Hutchins is a movie that must have looked and sounded good on paper, but which in reality is so ragged and unconvincing that the average viewer will be wondering why anyone bothered. The movie seeks to make Buddy a sympathetic character who is just so incredibly hard done by by virtually everyone around him, but trips up from the start by making him an unlikeable, arrogant jerk who blames everyone but himself for his troubles. With Kennedy unable to salvage the character (though he tries), the movie staggers as drunkenly as Buddy from one poorly shot, flatly directed scene to another.
Against a script by Cohn that abandons all credibility long before it gets to the point where Buddy is pursued in his van for hours by three lone police cars and then evades them just… like… that (or when he’s at Don’s house and he goes straight to the one cutlery drawer that has a gun in it), the movie offers little more than a succession of disasters that are piled on with no discernible reason other than that they’re meant to be humorous somehow. With characters behaving meanly and selfishly for no other reason than the script requires them to, Buddy Hutchins becomes quickly swamped by increasingly unlikely scenarios, and branches into gore territory once Buddy starts using his chainsaw.
Rating: 3/10 – as the movie adds to Buddy’s agony, so too does it add to the viewer’s, making Buddy Hutchins a movie that satisfies on only a couple of unexpected occasions; Kennedy does his best to keep it interesting but the material defeats him, and to make matters worse – if that was possible – Cohn’s direction is largely AWOL.