Hobo with a Shotgun – Review


“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” – Oscar Wilde

That quote from Wilde feels appropriate when discussing Hobo with a Shotgun because it seemed like a great idea for a film but turns out to be much less so. When Grindhouse came and went from theatres, the one thing that was discussed as often as both halves of that film were the fake trailers in between them. With Machete going from what was supposed to be a DVD extra to a full blown feature, with its own theatrical release, other fake trailers from that film have been contemplated being made into films. With famous film-makers like Edgar Wright, Rob Zombie and Eli Roth contributing trailers, something curious happened. A couple of wannabe Canadian auteurs ended up winning Robert Rodriguez’s SXSW Grindhouse Trailer Contest and found inclusion in selected theatres in the U.S and Canada. Thus sprang the trailer for, and eventually the feature film edition of, Hobo with a Shotgun.

Rutger Hauer stars as the titular Hobo, a man who winds up in Hope Town by hitching a ride on a freight train. Wanting to raise money so he can buy a lawn mower, and start his own company as a landscaper, he winds up on the opposite of The Drake (Brian Downey). He’s in cahoots with the law, who allow his two sons Ivan (Nick Bateman) and Slick (Gregory Smith) to do pretty much whatever they want. When the Hobo meets the proverbial “Hooker with a Heart of Gold” in Abby (Molly Dunsworth), he dreams of a life where he’s not begging for change. With the law in cahoots with the local crime kingpin, the Hobo decides to fight back with a Shotgun against the crime wave that is choking the city.

And the film contains about as much plot and character as you’d expect with a title like Hobo with a Shotgun . As such it could go the route of Black Dynamite or Machete, which featured a ridiculous plot taken seriously (but with a wink and a nudge), which is where the film seems to want to go to. It has plenty of “serious” moments that are intended to be more hilarious than they are serious, alongside some decent action sequences, but the film does something that’s nearly universal with the material provided.

It manages to do it poorly.

You shouldn’t expect brilliance from a film like Hobo with a Shotgun, obviously, but you should expect it to do be fun to watch. The whole point of the Grindhouse experience was to look back at this era of American cinema with a wink and a nudge, having fun with some horribly made films that were meant to be serious endeavors, and Hobo is a rather boring view. The problems arise because there’s a genuine movie star in the midst of rank amateurs.

Rutger Hauer may not be an A-list star but he’s an accomplished film actor with a presence in this film that just magnifies just how poor the rest of the cast is. Hauer seems to be having playing the Hobo who acquires a shotgun for some law & order, having the right tempo and intensity to send the character over the top. This is a talented actor who still has some zing behind his fastball going over the top in a ridiculous manner because he’s having fun while doing so. It points out just how ill-equipped the rest of the cast is for the film as everyone looks lost next to a professional. It’s rather amusing on some level to see a bunch of rank amateurs who are bad because of a lack of talent to this point as opposed to a professional indulging in every acting whim there is. Hauer is clearly having fun in a bad film but the rest of the cast isn’t, making it decidedly boring.

Machete was a fun trailer but a sub-par film and Hobo with a Shotgun shares with it that same motif. The trailers in Grindhouse left us wanting more but Hobo with a Shotgun shows us that perhaps less is more.

Director: Jason Eisener
Notable Cast: Rutger Hauer, Brian Downey, Gregory Smith, Molly Dunsworth, Robb Wells, Nick Bateman
Writer(s): John Davies based off the fake trailer for Hobo with a Shotgun created by Jason Eisener, John Davies, and Rob Cotterill

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