Buddy Boy

Buddy Boy

Of the movies I’ve written about so far, I’d say Paranoia 1.0 bears the most resemblance to Buddy Boy. Buddy Boy doesn’t stray quite as far from realism, and it doesn’t have supernatural or futuristic elements, but it has roughly the same kind of atmospherics as Paranoia 1.0—a very glum, mostly dark, urban setting, misfit people, ambiguously creepy or violent situations, etc.

I suppose it’s also loosely in the same family as Eraserhead, but much less surreal. Somewhere between Eraserhead and, say, Taxi Driver.

It’s not a genre I’m crazy about, and I wouldn’t say I loved this movie, but it intrigued me enough to rank somewhere around the middle of the movies I’ve written about so far.

The protagonist is an exaggeratedly mousy, nerdy, stuttering, anti-social loser, trying to square his horniness and frequent masturbation with a strict Catholic value system and the fact that his prospects for getting laid are decidedly low. He lives with a person he sometimes identifies as his stepmother, sometimes as his mother, and sometimes ambiguously to where it might be neither. She is—again in an exaggerated, caricaturish way—an exceedingly vile and uncouth invalid. (Think “Most Awful Family in Britain” sketch on Monty Python’s Flying Circus.)

One of the main character’s few joys in life comes when he realizes he’s got an awesome peeping opportunity looking in the windows of an apartment across the way. He soon commences—totally implausibly—dating this hot woman he’s been masturbating to, at—more implausibly—her insistence. In fact—yet more implausibly—the more he resists her and behaves inappropriately and crazily, the more doggedly she pursues him and the more ardently she proclaims her love for him.

Their involvement constitutes the main plotline of the movie—insofar as a movie like this has a coherent plot—but there are other things going on simultaneously. Much to the chagrin and disapproval of the protagonist, his stepmother—or whoever she is—acquires a semi-permanent visitor and suitor, a cretin of a plumber who is still well above her in dating market value. Meanwhile, the protagonist becomes convinced he’s multiple times seen a missing child from a milk carton, a little girl with a mark on her face suspiciously like his own birthmark.

Anyway, as things develop, it all gets more and more unrealistic. The characters become more bizarre and grotesque, the events more unlikely, the violence more black comedic. It becomes one of those movies where you realize some of this may well be just the fantasies or schizophrenic worldview of the main character.

And in fact, he comes to realize that himself, and to cling to his girlfriend’s love as his only possible way of not losing touch with reality entirely.

However, the film is careful not to tie up all loose ends in a way that requires this explanation. It leaves open the possibility that far more of what’s depicted are delusions than the character himself realizes and admits (I have to wonder, for instance, if he ever even met this “girlfriend” he’s been spying on and fantasizing about), but in the opposite direction, it slyly hints that the most bizarre things in the movie might be real after all.

Parts of it are slow with little dialogue, and the constant wondering what’s real and what’s not can be tedious (I’ve noted my annoyance with this in connection with other movies I’ve written about), but for me I guess it’s weird in a neutral or good way more often than in a bad way.

There’s a certain amount of fascination and humor to Buddy Boy, but it’s the sort of cult movie that you have to be a certain kind of person to really appreciate. If I’m in the right mood, I can get into this kind of thing in a limited way, but that’s about the most I can say.

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