Review: ‘Butt Boy’ is a strained, clenched exercise in fanny fiction
“Butt Boy” is either the best or worst rectal-kink detective noir/addiction drama/supervillain origin story ever made. An almost-absurd-enough indie whatsit that became a minor sensation at genre festivals last year, it tells the story of Chip Gutchel (Tyler Cornack), a middle-aged depressive with a dull IT job, a loveless marriage and an overwhelming urge to stick everyday objects up his tush. Unfortunately, board-game pieces and the TV remote just aren’t doing it for him anymore; before long, he has become the Venom of self-penetration enthusiasts, his sphincter voracious enough to inhale floppy disks (it’s a period piece), small dogs and, most disturbingly, young children.
The grotesque psychosexual implications of Chip’s very specific compulsion are never really explored, to the likely relief of the audience but also the detriment of this coyly outlandish movie. As we see in a prologue, all it takes is a routine prostate exam for Chip to get hooked; nine years later, he’s a full-blown addict of anal retention, with a shameful history of kidnapping and assault that he’s desperate to keep hidden from everyone, especially his wife (Shelby Dash) and young son (Tyler Dryden). Chip’s incommunicative nature, as embodied by Cornack’s deliberately inert performance, is played for creepy deadpan laughs that never quite arrive; he’s the bland Dr. Jekyll to his own Mr. Hind.
The movie, which Cornack also directed and co-wrote (with Ryan Koch), suggests a half-hour comic sketch laboriously dragged out to 100 minutes. Apart from its half-hearted attempts at an “Office Space”-style satire of mid-’90s corporate anomie, “Butt Boy” spends most of its time contriving a cat-and-mouse dynamic between Chip and a hard-drinking police detective, Russel (Tyler Rice), whom he meets by chance at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. When Chip becomes Russel’s sponsor, the two lead Tylers do manage some fitfully engaging chemistry, with Russel’s old-school gumshoe archetype initially on the defensive — until he gradually realizes that booze isn’t Chip’s poison of choice.
It takes Russel a while longer to suspect that his sponsor might be responsible for the kidnapping case he’s investigating and longer still to discover that Chip’s posterior has a gravitational pull powerful to bring new meaning to the term “black hole.” As Geppetto said in Disney’s “Pinocchio,” referring to the mouth of the enormous whale Monstro: “Everything comes in; nothing goes out.” I thought about Monstro repeatedly — more to distract myself than anything else — as this fanny fiction finally neared its own terminus, building to a rear window of a third act that suggests what might happen if David Cronenberg and Guillermo del Toro co-directed a colonoscopy.
None of which is intended to make this movie sound more entertaining than it is. If you’re genuinely in the mood for a comedy of excremental panic, I’d nudge you in the superior direction of the 2014 crime thriller “The Mule” (no, not the Clint Eastwood one). Some might describe “Butt Boy’s” plodding, procedural-style storytelling as (ahem) assiduous, though I’d say constipation is the more appropriate metaphor: The story strains and clenches for more than an hour before finally reaching its bloody, long-overdue and admittedly eye-popping release. For a moment, you can’t believe this movie exists, which is not quite the same as being grateful that it does.
Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Playing: Available April 14 on iTunes
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