Friday, February 14, 2020

Hank and Mike Review

"Pink... annoyed... and unemployed." -- Hank and Mike

When I was about ten years old, a new family moved in on the other side of our bay with two twin boys who were around my age. Shortly thereafter the twins came out to play and introduced themselves as Mark and Mike. Mark used to have a slight speech impediment, so for a good six months or so I actually thought his name was Mork. At the time it didn't really seem like a strange name to me, but I remember he kept giving me quizzical looks whenever I gave him a "Nanu-Nanu" greeting. Anyway, this story doesn't really have much to do with this review. I was just reminded of those childhood memories when Magnolia's "Hank and Mike" DVD came in the mail.

"Hank and Mike" is one of those little independent comedies I hadn't heard much about. I never saw any trailers and nobody commented on it to me by word-of-mouth. All I knew was that a couple of users here on DVDTOWN praised the film and thought it was original and hilarious. So I figured what the hell, I'm always in the mood for a few chuckles, and gave it a whirl.

Well, personally I wouldn't classify the experience as "hilarious" per se, but then again comedy is subjective. For example, I know some people who think "Napoleon Dynamite" is comical and all the rage, yet I hated--no, despised--that movie. I just didn't get any of it at all and watched the whole thing with a deadpan face. After it was over I wanted to get even with my aunt somehow for hyping it up and making me sit through the dry and dull John Heder wasteland. Now I wouldn't say "Hank and Mike" is entirely in the same boat as "Dynamite," but sections of it are on a nearby flotation device.

Hank (Thomas Michael) and Mike (Paolo Mancini) are two blue-collar Easter bunnies making their living by delivering chocolate eggs to children for a company called Easter Enterprises. Although they look like a couple of grown men in pink rabbit costumes, don't let that fool you. They are the actual Easter bunnies in the flesh. I just didn't figure this out until about a third of the way through the movie, so either I'm slow on the uptake or it wasn't as clear as it should have been from the start.

Anyway, Hank is an alcoholic, chain-smoker, womanizer, and a slacker. Mike on the other hand is a more reputable citizen who loves his job--so much so that his pride and joy is the golden egg statuette sitting on his mantle as a testament to his impeccable service. Some of Hank is starting to rub off on Mike, though, and the straight shooter is beginning to loosen up and enjoy the good things in life. Just a little.

On one particular Easter morning, Hank and Mike are busy breaking into homes and leaving candy for children all around the neighborhood. Hank, however, happens to miss planting chocolate in the last home on their route. Either by accident, or just to head home early.

Meanwhile behind the scenes at Easter Enterprises, an up-and-coming executive named Conrad Hubriss (Chris Klein) is wreaking havoc within the company. The "idea-man" has come up with a sponsored suicide scheme that has put him on the map, and his next ploy to put even more money in the pockets of the board members is to reduce a hefty percent of the staff. Naturally, the first to go on the chopping block would be the employees with blemishes on their records--and while Mike's is exemplary, Hank's file is far from commendable.

Word gets out on the news about the missed house, so the CEO of the company--Mr. Pan (suavely played by Joe Mantegna)--calls in Hank and Mike to his office. Since the two of them work together as a team, Mr. Pan holds each of them responsible for the fiasco and decides to give them both their walking papers.

The rest of the film deals with Hank and Mike's downward spiral as they suffer through bouts of depression, unsuccessfully seek out other means of employment, and eventually are evicted from their apartment. This domino effect puts a tremendous strain on their friendship, too.

As I was watching "Hank and Mike," I just couldn't help having the feeling I was sitting through a "Saturday Night Live" skit that went on for far too long. That's why it really didn't surprise me to discover on the bonus features that the characters were in fact created for a Canadian sketch comedy show called "Y B Normal?" in the late 90s. Apparently "Hank and Mike" were so popular on that short-lived series, it gave birth to this full-length feature film. Oddly enough I live in Canada and I've never heard of the program.

Now this doesn't mean I thought "Hank and Mike" wasn't funny. The movie does have its moments, and I found myself laughing pretty hard for a fair number of jokes and gags. A lot of it is a dry humor, though, so for every solid comedic element there were at least two more that really didn't do anything for me. Some of it dragged, and some of it was just outright creepy instead of being humorous. In fact, the most amusing part of the whole movie for me had little to do with the title characters--I'm referring to the peculiar scene in the peeler bar where Chris Klein sings the blues about love. I will admit I thought the performance was a riot and laughed even harder when viewing the extended version included in the extras, but the weird thing is the scene came out of nowhere and didn't contribute anything to the story. It was an odd addition and I still can't figure out why it was even there.