What if Dr Dolittle was a serial killer?
It’s not often that you get a film about a man with mental health issues that effortlessly balances comedy, empathy, gore and horror – but the largely ignored film “The Voices” (2014) starring Ryan Reynolds, Anna Kendrick, Gemma Arterton and Jacki Weaver does just that. It’s a downright hilarious film that shows you the world from the very unique perspective of mentally unstable Jerry. Jerry navigates through life with the help of his talking pets – the lovable dopey dog Boscoe and his viciously sassy cat Mr Whiskers who act like the Angel and Devil on jerry’s shoulder.
The film received positive reviews from critics but fell into relative obscurity due to a limited release and minimal publicity. The film only came to my attention by accident after being offered free tickets to an early screening of the film at FACT Liverpool, otherwise it would be entirely likely I’d have completely missed it too. In fairness not giving the film a wide release and big publicity budget was probably the correct move as it caters to a certain type of movie goer. It’s often bubblegum pop aesthetic, main characters and actors are appealing to one type of audience buts its black comedy, dark plot and excessive gore, swearing and general weirdness probably appeal to another audience completely. Anna Kendrick for example is very much a Marmite actor but even me as a massive fan would (wrongly) question her casting in a dark horror comedy.
I left the cinema expecting this film to slowly gather a cult following as it has all the aspects and potential for that but I’m still yet to meet anyone who has even heard of it unless I’ve personally sat them down to watch it. It’s a shame especially as for me Ryan Reynolds puts in his best performance to date and yes I’m even saying he plays this role better than his universally adored Deadpool.
Reynolds plays the main character of Jerry the lovable naive serial killer as well as providing the voices for both of his pets, a half dead deer and his sock puppet Bunny Monkey. He manages to keep you on side with Jerry even as he spirals further and further down the rabbit hole of murder and decapitation. It’s seriously impressive as you find yourself almost trying to justify his actions, if not just truly empathising with his heartbreaking family history that brought me to tears. His character awkwardness and lack of confidence is so endearing that’s it’s also the most attractive I’ve ever found Ryan Reynolds, perhaps that says something more about me than the character but he makes me swoon in this film.
However Jerry isn’t the best role Reynolds plays in the film, not even close in fact. Enter Mr Whiskers. If you have ever wondered what a cat would say if it could speak I’d say this is about as close as you are going to get. Mr Whiskers is straight up vicious, crude, evil and absolutely hysterical. Full off witty one liners, insults and vulgar questions it’s safe to say he’s my new sprit animal.
Without giving too much away the plot focuses on Jerry trying to fit in at the office making friends, join a Conga Line and dabbling at dating the office’s stunning English girl Fiona played by Gemma Arterton. After initially standing him up for a karaoke party the date goes ahead with an unfortunate accident that leads to Fiona’s head being placed in the fridge to flirt and hurl insults at Jerry when needed. Don’t worry about Jerry’s love life though Anna Kendrick’s Lisa doesn’t mourn her friend for long before taking her man.
Jacki Weaver plays Jerry’s psychologist and through these sessions we are given some incite and great character building moments for Jerry as well as some superb acting on both parts. Despite some suspicions and unsuccessful attempts to get Jerry back on the medication it’s not long before Fiona has a friendly head in the fridge and another woman tied up on the couch. Cue some great moments where we see the world from others or Jerry’s medicated perspective that quickly snap you back to the reality. They highlight that despite all the laughs there is some pretty dark stuff going on.
The ending to the story is, well depressing but necessary and I’m glad they committed to that. However have no fear just when you think you were gonna leave this film on a down beat along comes one of the best musical credit endings ever featuring the talents of all the cast and Jesus.
So in conclusion it’s a crazy, dark but ultimately fun film that you need to watch. It’s a cult film to be, so lets make sure that happens even if it’s just so I can selfishly have someone to talk about it with and endlessly quote to. Grab a friend, grab some gin, popcorn, sit back and enjoy the craziest yet funniest movie night you will have anytime soon.