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REVIEW: The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter

July 6, 2018

Director: Jody Hill
Screenplay: Jody Hill, John Carcieri, Danny McBride
Starring: Josh Brolin, Montana Jordan, Danny McBride
Runtime: 83 Minutes

 

★★☆☆☆

 

Josh Brolin is having a pretty prolific year of overdue success with his mainstream blockbuster work, but it’s nice to see him offering his considerable talents as a likeable dad figure to something comparatively lower key. It’s just a let-down that he’s the only person who’s pulling most of the compelling weight in this semi-satirical depiction of masculine hunter archetypes against the backdrop of rural America.

 

Semi-satirical only because the intense comedy being mined at the expense of the great hunter Buck Ferguson’s (Josh Brolin) attempts to reconnect with his son Jaden (Montana Jordan) through the guise of a tacky self-promotional hunter’s guide documentary, being filmed by cameraman Don (Danny McBride), only comes into play at certain points.

 

The film's introduction is a convincing parody of the kind of VHS promotional videos that thrived in the 1980s, and the residual profits of which have all but dried up today, stand as the films only interesting point being made regarding Buck’s status as a Z-list local celebrity and his waning importance in a forward moving world looking to leave him behind.

 

Only, the film doesn’t even seem to align itself with even this fully. His emotional sentiments toward handing his son down his own firearm being undercut by his new stepfather gifting him an assault rifle that Buck immediately sneers at. The gun is a significant symbol of individual agency and a passing of the torch tool signifying the impending arrival of manhood to Jaden, but its toe-dip into gun culture feels all the more anachronistic given how straight it plays it while also offering jibes at Jaden’s disinterest in the whole thing until the expected resolution.

 

This is a change of gear for co-writer and director Jody Hill and should be more interesting than it is, but just isn’t. It’s surprisingly empty and confused about its being beyond some attention to detail flare and Brolin’s steadfast performance.

 

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