Todd: “My doctor says I have to pull the trigger on my gun once an hour or I’ll explode.”
Zach Galifianakis is a man of multiple talents. Comedian, pianist/musician (sort of) and or course, he’s an actor. Anyone who’s seen THE HANGOVER knows that he’s a very funny guy, and his comedy routine, while dry and off-beat, is very good as well. But, I’m not sure everyone knows what kind of an actor he really is, at least not yet. VISIONEERS will give you a wonderful sneak peak into the thespian talents of Zach Galifianakis.
VISIONEERS is the feature film debut for director Jared Drake, working from a script by his brother Brandon Drake. The very first thing that came to mind for me early on while watching this movie was a fear that it was going to be Terry Gilliam’s BRAZIL all over again. Well, I was both right and wrong. The film is a wonderful take on much of the same sort of subject matter, satirizing the state of our society and culture. However, VISIONEERS holds it’s own and is based in present day, while BRAZIL takes place in the future.
The movie takes us on a slow and deliberate, mind-numbingly neurotic ride through the daily life of one George Washington Winsterhammerman (Galifianakis) who works as a Level 3 Visioneer for Jeffers Corporation, the largest, friendliest and most profitable corporation ever. His job description is entirely unclear, as what little he and his colleagues and co-workers do throughout the day appears minimal, at best. We do know, however, that George is in charge of the other three workers on his level and is meant to ensure they stay productive.
George is clearly unhappy with his life. He’s become a lifeless corporate drone, unable to feel anything anymore and has given in to his unsatisfying place in society. Judy Greer (THE GRAND) plays Michelle, whose relationship with George suffers on account of his inability to feel anything… oh, and of course due also to his impotence. Michelle is a sweet girl, but her patience with George’s condition is running thin as she finds herself watching “Sahra” (yes, that’s how it’s spelled), a daytime talk show hosted by the title character, intended to promote wellness through self-help ideals.
Endorsed by the President of the United States, Jeffers Corporation is thriving on their business of promoting productivity and happiness of a truly artificial sort. When an outbreak occurs of people exploding from the stress of repressing their true feelings, Jeffers jumps to the rescue with a mind control device called the Inhibitor, designed to suppress any feelings of stress, sadness or anxiety that might result in an explosion. With the rate of explosions increasing the President makes the inhibitor mandatory for any citizen showing signs of unhappiness. George and Michelle resist, but at what cost?
VISIONEERS is a comedy of a less traditional sort, a commentary on various contemporary elements of our politics, corporate environment and cultural habits. There is a quirkiness to the story, with characters that just don’t seem quite right, but at the same time are very true at their core. Jeffers himself appears almost robotic and in the end turns out to be a front for the real Jeffers. Talk Show host Sahra (Missy Pyle) turns out to be susceptible to the very conditions she works to help other avoid and George’s brother sets out to pursue a movement of free expression in George’s backyard, centering his attention on successfully mastering the pole vault.
The movie will NOT appeal to everyone, that I WILL promise you. However, anyone interested in this type of intelligent comedy and uniquely bizarre storytelling should definitely take a look at this great debut film from the Drake brothers. The mostly piano music throughout the film, provided by Tim DeLaughter accompanies the story and the tone of the film well. I actually wondered initially if this was from Zach Galifianakis himself, but alas it was not.
VISIONEERS released on DVD on July 21, 2009 and, at least originally, was only available through Blockbuster Online. I found this out as I attempted and failed to rent the DVD from three separate Blockbuster stores, all of whom claim they’d never heard of the movie and their system didn’t show they had any on order. Nonetheless, I fell back on my trusty Netflix account and finally got hold of a copy. The film is apparently makes waves amidst niche markets, as Amazon of all sites is currently out of stock.
Check out the cool Official Website for VISIONEERS here.