Mother Schmuckers is so deeply stupid there’s nothing really to think about… and in such bad taste that you won’t want to think about it.
When Britney Spears attended Sundance in 2003, she said, “Sundance is weird. The movies are weird — you actually have to think about them when you watch them.” Whoever selected Mother Schmuckers as one of the Midnight selections for the online 2021 Sundance Film Festival seemingly took it upon themselves to disprove half of this quote. This Belgian gross-out comedy from brothers Lenny and Harpo Guit is certainly weird, but it’s also so deeply stupid there’s nothing really to think about… and in such bad taste that you won’t want to think about it.
The tone is set in the opening scene, where dumb-and-dumber brothers Issachar (Maxi Delmelle) and Zabulon (Harpo Guit) are cooking literal pieces of feces, inspiring their mother to vomit out the film’s title. This is actually far from the grossest part of the film.
Sundance offers a content warning noting that the film “contains graphic depictions of animal abuse, sexual violence, and other subject matter that could be offensive to some viewers.” Even with this warning, you might not be prepared for what you’re about to see, and the only reason you won’t be closing your eyes at some parts is to reassure yourself everything is just being staged.
Is it funny? Sporadically, yes, at points when it’s focused more on slapstick hijinks and old-school comedy gags rather than just being as offensive as possible. A scene where the brothers try hunting pigeons and end up mistaken for terrorists got some chuckles from this critic, as did their designs for a missing dog poster. Some interludes with an amateur filmmaker friend have an energy to them that’s engaging if not laugh-out-loud hilarious. The general problems with the comedy generally seem to stem from a general aimlessness; much of the film was unscripted but the actors’ improv skills are nowhere near the level of a Sacha Baron-Cohen.
You can see what the Guit brothers are trying to do; in their introduction to the film and the post-film Q&A, they seem like good-natured guys with a wide variety of comedic influences, ranging from The Three Stooges to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. And yes, their dog is cute. Disappointingly, however, Mother Schmuckers just isn’t clever enough to make its stupidity and offensiveness truly endearing the way the film’s edgiest influences manage to, so this is a film to pass on.
Mother Schmuckers premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 29 and has an encore screening on Jan. 31. It stars Harpo Guit, Maxi Delmelle, Claire Bodson, Mathieu Amalric and Habib Ben Tanfous. It will be released in the United States later this year.
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