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Todd Solondz finally shoots and misses with this limp, gutless modern melodrama....
Virgil Films / 86 Minutes / 2011 / Unrated / Street Date: November 13, 2012
Being a Todd Solondz defender has been a dubious task for a number of years now - since Happiness, really - and with the dumbfoundingly bad Dark Horse, I must for once give the Jersey nightmarist a failing grade. This somehow star-studded affair - Christopher Walken! Mia Farrow! Justin Bartha! - is the first time since Solondz's Welcome to the Dollhouse Sundance appearance where the filmmaker appears to be on full and unfortunate autopilot: Dark Horse is, in short, a pointless, uninspired mess.
This tale of a super-loser (Jordan Gelber) who lives to buy Thundercats action figures (at a Toys R Us whose store logo is blatantly blurred here - somehow they don't like what Solondz represents) and still lives at home has bulletpoints of intrigue, but once it reaches its short end, one wonders what the point was. It's always wonderful to watch Selma Blair and Solondz work together to find a myriad of characteristic wonder within a deeply, almost fatally flawed character, but her romance (if you can call it that) with Gelber is unbelievable from start to finish, and even our protagonist's relationship with mom and dad (Walken and Farrow) is surprisingly presented without any real fangs.
So heed this warning, my friends: this writer who loves Palindromes and Life During Wartime and pretty much everything else Todd Solondz has burped upon the world - I find him to be a Woody Allen-ish patron saint of the disenfranchised and unfortunate - readily dismisses Dark Horse as a dull, pointless romp. A broken clock is right twice a day, so there are glimmers of Solondz majesty that pop up here and there, but these instances occur more by default than inspiration. Even the greats falter now and then, so while I still have faith that Todd Solondz has more devastatingly uncouth and awkward tales to tell, Dark Horse is the first of his that really just adds up to nothing.