Not Rated; Directed by Jared Drake; Starring Zach Galifianakis; Judy Greer, Mia Maestro, Missi Pyle, James Le Gros
The surprise summer hit, The Hangover brought comic Zach Galifianakis to everyone’s attention. His portrayal of a socially-inept buddy was hilarious. Zach’s ability to look befuddled at whatever life threw at him, made audiences laugh. I bet you want to see him in more films. So, while scanning the DVDs at the local rental place, you may see Visioneers on the shelf. It stars Zach Galifianakis, so it must be a riotous comedy, right? Hold on, Visioneers is not a laugh a minute type of film. It’s more of a dour look at a dystopian society. Galifianakis is okay in the movie, but he won’t have you busting a gut with laughter.
In this future Orwellian world, where the media pushes happiness and good feelings, many people are finding it hard to stay alive. It seems that people are exploding unexpectedly due to the stress of surviving in this world. Zach Galifianakis plays George, a mid-level manager stuck as a “Level 3” worker at Jeffers Corp, a giant corporation involved in everyone’s lives. George’s only joys are the times when he receives calls from Charisma (Mia Maestro), another worker. His home life is less than sublime, with wife Michelle (Judy Greer) toiling hard to live up to television’s portrayal of what happy people do.
The movie has some interesting visuals and the script offers a story with a sly sense of humor. Unfortunately, the movie keeps that humor very low key, which leads to long moments of boredom. The best scenes give us George bingeing on food while watching vapid TV talk shows (Missi Pyle shines as the perky host of one show).
The story of George’s marriage is not as interesting. Judy Greer, one of the funniest actresses in the business (her stint on Arrested Development was hysterical), does not get an opportunity to use her gifts. Neither does Zach Galifianakis. Both play their roles very seriously, but end up as glum, rather than ironic – or even interesting.
First-time director Jared Drake finds inspiration from Fraçcois Truffaut’s “Fahrenheit 451” and Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil,” and cleverly uses a small budget to bring us this future world. Drake also slyly spoofs TV. The commercial for an awful show called “Mack Luster” is clever. Yet if his direction led to Galifianakis and Greer playing their roles so blandly, then he needs to work on his directing skills.
Visioneers has some good scenes, a clever idea, and a good cast. It is too bad that most of it goes to waste. This kind of movie is recommended for people interested in a film that does try for something different. If you are looking for an hilarious video that has Galifianakis, then keep scanning the shelves at the DVD store.