Eric D. Snider

Visioneers

Movie Review

Visioneers

by Eric D. Snider

Grade: B+

Released: June 12, 2008

 

Directed by:

Cast:

Most of the individual components of "Visioneers" are not new, nor are the film's ideas particularly deep. Yet somehow the combination, written and directed by brothers Jared and Brandon Drake -- in their first film, amazingly -- feels fresh and invigorating. It's a high-concept comedy, but it's down-to-earth and accessible, even a little touching. It's a terrific start for a pair of new filmmakers.

The setting is a dystopian version of modern-day America, where the Jeffers Corporation is the most powerful entity in the world. Even the U.S. president kowtows to the monolithic company, whose employees are called "tunts" and "goobs" and work at ill-defined tasks at various bureaucratic levels. As with most firms in dystopian movies, it's never established what, exactly, the Jeffers Corp. does, but its influence is felt everywhere. Common people greet each other with the "Jeffers salute," which looks suspiciously like flipping the bird.

Our hero is a Level 3 tunt named George Washington Winsterhammerman (Zach Galifianakis). He's the supervisor of a little pod of employees who work in a depressing office where an automated voice announces, every 60 seconds, how many minutes remain before the weekend. Everyone is generally disheartened and depressed, but this has been enhanced in recent weeks as citizens have been spontaneously combusting due to stress.

One way to avoid stress, of course, is to just accept things as they are. ("Forget ourselves, work together" is the Jeffers Corp. motto.) Unfortunately, George Washington Winsterhammerman has been suffering from dreams and ambitions lately, and it's been established that this is a precursor to exploding. He has a wife, Michelle (Judy Greer), who spends all her time seeking happiness via TV products and eating a lot of butter, but he hardly loves her anymore. Instead, he looks forward to the few minutes each day that he can talk on the phone to Charisma (Mia Maestro), the Level 4 goob who supervises his department. It is the one time that George's mood brightens.

As George worries more and more about the possibility of explosion, the film dives deeper and deeper into its satire of modern corporate-driven life, where happiness is elusive while complacency is easily achieved. It's a simple truth that everyone wants to be happy. What separates us is how we go about looking for happiness, or whether we even look for it at all. Sometimes we try elaborate, stupid measures to produce happiness when the real solution is staring us in the face. George's brother (James LeGros) has already found that pole-vaulting makes him happy, though his refusal to participate in the Jeffers-sanctioned programs has made him a government target.

"Visioneers" is about George's search for meaning in his life, and comedian Zach Galifianakis plays the role with more conviction and depth than you might have expected. George is subdued and contemplative, but not boring -- and that's a fine line for an actor to walk. He earns laughs through the old-fashioned method of being the only sane person in a sea of crazies, but the filmmakers avoid overplaying the lunacy of the world they've created. Understatement is the rule.

And it works magnificently. Like I said, we've seen a lot of these ideas before. But even if it's not reinventing the wheel, "Visioneers" still manages to be insightful, intelligent, and melancholically funny. If the Drake brothers have any more stories as good as this one, they could become an exciting new force in the film world. Let me be the first to give them a Jeffers salute, but in a good way.

Grade: B+

Not rated, probably R for some harsh profanity, a few violent images, some mild sexuality

1 hr., 34 min.

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This item has 7 comments

  1. Mike Croteau says:

    I thought this movie was great! Great summation... I look forward to more movies by the Drake brothers.

  2. Jared says:

    this movie was rediculously horrible i didnt get any of it.. it jst plainly didnt make any sense and from the beggining of it they never explained anyhting.. it was sort of like starting in the middle of a movie woundering what the hell is going on here and then never really finding out what did go on accept that he finally falls in love the END! So STUPID!

  3. David says:

    Jared, are you really serious? I don't understand why you would call this movie stupid. I think even if it's not your type of move, calling it stupid is a uneducated comment. Maybe your stupid, and that's why you couldn't understand? Reading this my grammar makes me feel stupid now. Thanks a lot Jared... Now I'm stupid too. * David gives Jared the Jeffers salute*

  4. Amir Stratton says:

    This was a pretty good movie in a weird way? It was different in other words yet I still enjoyed it. It definitely portrayed modern America in a since. At one point I was curious if the old guy George met in the limo personified the illumanti or these so called secret societies that run this country/world of ours behind the scenes? And I gotta admit Davids comment was pretty funny haha, Jared....your an idiot. *Joins David and gives the Jeffers salute*

  5. Aarkn says:

    I found this movie painfully monotonous and directionless. The point of the movie was a fairly simple one and did come close to requiring the amount of time and frankly annoying dialogue which it consisted of. The sequence of events could easily be predicted within the early stages of the movie and none of them were particularly interesting, funny or cutting edge. I'm my humble opinion Visioneers is a real failed attempt to be edgy.

  6. Rob says:

    Ditto Aarkn!!

    The rest of you, save Mike, take an english class at the nearest community college, brush up on spelling, punctuation and grammar. Then when you have something brilliant to say, just keep it to yourself. I am just kidding, so please, no death threats. Just messin around.

    I like the idea of this movie. However, it was a complete and utter snoozefest. I even thought at one point that I may be being challenged to come out of my shell and experience something new. Then I realized none of it was new.

  7. Josh says:

    This movie is brilliant. While it is certainly not everyone's cup of tea it sure did quench my thirst. It took such a realistic view on our world today and how we are essentially hyptomized by corporations. The small bits of dry humor made it even better.

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