Riddle: What do you get when you have a dark comedy, but it isn’t really that dark and you don’t laugh a lot? Stumped? Of course you are because the only answer is disappointment. GRINGO is one of those dark comedies that think its smarter than everyone else in the room, when it actually is the jealous kid in the corner at a party not talking to anybody and sipping his fucking cranberry juice. It tries so hard to be something like In Bruges or this weekend’s much much better Thoroughbreds, but instead comes off as just another Rock The Kazbah with Bill Murray. Oh, you haven’t heard of that movie? Then you win in life, don’t look it up. Gringo is even more disappointing considering everyone involved. It literally doesn’t work on any level.
How doesn’t it work? Let me count the ways. Let’s start with reason number 1. Not one character is likable, even the protagonist that is the real innocent in all this, Harold, played by the great David Oyelowo. He’s just too much of a pussy the entire movie to be likable and even his 180 turn in attitude near the end doesn’t feel deserved. The usually always great Charlize Theron plays a over the line racist bitch boss of Harold and Joel Edgerton plays a over the line sexist pig other boss of Harold. Thandie Newton and Amanda Seyfried play the two most worthless throwaway characters I haven’t seen. At least Thandie Newton plays a sort of semi part of Harold’s wife but Amanda Seyfried is completely worthless to the plot. They should’ve just hired a new up and coming actress. What was she even doing accepting this role? She’s in three scenes and literally has one small speech and does NOTHING. The only character close enough to like is Sharlto Copley, who kind of has a 2 dimensional arc, but then his character’s resolution is so anti-climatic it just made me not even care.
I should probably explain what the movie is about really quickly before I keep going on with what is wrong with it. It’s about a business man named Harold who because of his two sleazy awful bosses finds himself in trouble in Mexico with the authorities and drug lords because all of them think he holds the key to a new marijuana pill that is going to kill it in the medical marijuana market. That’s all I’ll say to avoid spoilers. The movie goes exactly where you think it will and the ending is too easy and lame. If you are going to do the dark comedy genre, you have to do the unexpected. Not once was I shocked to where this movie went, which is problem number 2, it is 150% predictable on ever level. And even with the predictability the movie isn’t fun.
Problem #3? The humor is way too mean. There is mean spirited humor in movies that work a lot, but that’s because we usually like the characters that are saying or doing those jokes, and we know they don’t really mean harm to anyone. In this, the jokes are just too real, too mean, and not funny. Charlize Theron spits out really just off the wall racial stuff and even makes fun of a deaf person at one point. It’s cringe walk-out-of-the-theater worthy. Not one joke is smart. It isn’t necessarily potty humor, it’s just mean spirited, cruel, or too easy. They were all written in haste and didn’t take too long to think of.
The final problem is that every character resolution is anti climatic. You think all these characters are going to get huge momentous moments, with some getting pure triumph or some getting pure demise…but no. Maybe one character gets that, and its predictable and boring. Everybody else’s resolution just comes really quickly after they’ve been off screen for 25 minutes. They pop back up just to go, oh, here I am and here is the really easy and stupid thing that ended up happening to me, and my story is over! Character’s resolutions are supposed to have rhyme and reason and poetic justice. The writers literally wrote all the characters into corners where each of their endings are the most boring outcomes that could’ve ever been written.
Gringo is just not good. All the funny parts, or really the “chuckle” (at least for me) parts are all in the trailer and the actual film doesn’t offer anything better. The story is stupid and has been done before, the movie thinks it is dark when it really isn’t, and there isn’t one likable character. This movie could’ve had 25 minutes shaved from it, completely cut out Thandie Newton and Amanda Seyfried, and you could’ve had maybe something a little tighter and a little bit more watchable, but not by much. The director, Nash Edgerton, who is Joel’s brother, wasn’t the problem here. The actors are all good in this and everything is shot very well. The problem was completely the script. It should’ve been thrown out, and rewritten from the top. This will be in the Walmart $5 dollar bin in four months, and no one will remember this movie even exists in five.