Hamsmacking With JC

Some ideas are so great, so brilliant, so immediately obviously earth-shaking, that it's almost impossible to live up to them. The KLF's "The Queen and I" -- as soon as somebody tells you that it's "Dancing Queen" with kazoos you get hamsmacked by the raw genius of the whole idea. And then you hear it, and, well, it actually gets kind of tedious after a while. The IDEA is still brilliant, it's just that in reality it doesn't quite kick as much butt as it should. It overstays its welcome.

Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter! is kind of like that.

I mean, if this is the first time you've ever heard of it, you're right now smacking yourself in the forehead and exclaiming theatrically "Why didn't I think of that?"

(that, by the way, is a hamsmack -- getting smacked while hamming it up)

Which is exactly what I did.

And then I watched it, and you know, it's funny. It's pretty funny. There's some pretty funny stuff. There's even some REALLY funny stuff. It's just not, you know, AS funny as Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter!.

That said, there's a lot to love. Mexican wrestlers, hapless lesbians, atheists, ,motorcycles, fight scenes, and musical numbers -- this is all very, very good. Packed full of stuff -- we've identified that before as a good thing in a film. And although it is very, very packed full of stuff, JCVH never quite gets up off the ground the way Tsui Hark's POB does.

Part of that is the inherently dreary nature of Canadian story-telling. Some famous person I don't remember said of Canada, "I find their jokes like their roads: they travel endlessly through unchanging terrain, getting slowly closer to a resolution that grows steadily more obvious with each passing second."

Something like that, anyway. I've been reading in a couple of places of how the much-vaunted (in Canada, at any rate) Canadian "funnyness" is actually not very funny, that in fact Canadian comedy tends towards tediousness. I disagree, but JCVH isn't the best evidence to counter that assertion. It's got that earnestness to it, that determination to make sure you've understood each and every point, that characterizes so much tedious Canadian cinema.

I'm ragging on it too hard, it's true. JCVH is a silly little film full of silly little jokes. One wishes, though, that each joke got only 75% of the screentime that it gets, that the whole film was just a little shorter than it is, that everything happened just a little faster than it does.

You have to salute the film-makers, though. The idea is a hamsmacker, and it's done with a lot of heart and energy. It's just kind of like ABBA with kazoos -- such a great idea, but just not enough to keep the whole engine going.