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3, 2, 1... Frankie Go Boom

2012 | 89 min | R | 2.39:1

3, 2, 1... Frankie Go Boom


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Theatrical release date

 12 October, 2012

Country of origin

 United States



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3, 2, 1... Frankie Go Boom


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3, 2, 1... Frankie Go Boom Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, October 11, 2012

A comedic farce doesn’t have to make perfect sense, but there should be something within the realm of logic fueling the insanity, grounding the effort in plausibility as fits of madness swirl around. The unfortunately titled “3, 2, 1…Frankie Go Boom” doesn’t supply a single believable moment, sprinting around a most nonsensical, contrived offering of screenwriting. It’s unbearable to sit through at times, watching decent actors flounder with intentionally ridiculous material, working themselves into a lather to serve writer/director Jordan Roberts’s clumsy sense of humor. It’s utter nonsense, but not an admirable type of tomfoolery that carries itself with an engaging creative vision.

Exiling himself to the center of Death Valley to get away from his toxic family, Frankie (Charlie Hunnam) is sucked back into domestic demands when older brother Bruce (Chris O’Dowd) is released from rehab. Ready to make amends with Frankie after uploading his humiliating wedding video to the internet, Bruce can’t stifle old habits, secretly taping Frankie in his bedroom with one-night-stand Lassie (Lizzy Caplan) as he struggles with impotency. Hoping to use the footage to jumpstart his directorial career with sober pal, and Lassie’s father, Jack (Chris Noth), Bruce uploads this video as well, sending Frankie into a full blown panic attack, demanding the footage be pulled immediately. Crossing Los Angeles on a quest to yank the recording before word reaches Lassie, Frankie confronts all manner of setbacks, while Bruce inches closer to the realization of his filmmaking dream, repeatedly betraying his brother to secure his interests.

The primary problem with “Frankie Go Boom” is the contaminated relationship between Frankie and Bruce, with the prologue of the feature detailing an early scene of filmmaking manipulation as the older brother tempts his younger sibling into physical harm to create something special for the camera. Roberts’s script makes it clear that Frankie wants nothing to do with his family, even taking up residence inside a decrepit trailer in the middle of nowhere to clear his mind. However, when his mother (Nora Dunn) calls with word of Bruce’s rehabilitation, the dutiful son makes the pilgrimage home. Why? It’s not explained to satisfaction, especially when it’s understood that Bruce has a history of breaking promises, including one that’s destroyed his brother’s life. Frankie returns home because Roberts needs him to return home, otherwise we wouldn’t have a movie. That really wouldn’t be such an unpleasant development.

There are whoppers galore in “Frankie Go Boom,” with Roberts making the characters up as he goes, ignoring a consistent display of escalating anxiety to simply stitch together random scenes of comedic desperation, including a third act that introduces Phyllis (Ron Perlman), one of Bruce’s jail buddies who’s gone through gender reassignment surgery and asks Frankie to view the waxed results. There’s no reason for the character to be here, but that’s the routine of the movie. Roberts simply craves the sight of Perlman in drag on screen, no matter how awkwardly it fits into the feature. There’s also a question of Frankie and Lassie’s humiliating tape, a development that would naturally decimate any peaceful interaction between the brothers, yet the screenplay keeps Frankie tied to Bruce, hoping the very man who’s obsessed with making his life a living hell will make the effort to help him out in his darkest hour. The script is completely absurd, without a modicum of creative finesse that could aid the audience in comprehending these outrageously durable family ties. Bruce’s insincerity (and O’Dowd’s brutal American accent) is more disturbing than humorous, infusing the picture with an unintentional grip of mental illness that comes to paralyze the helmer’s storytelling judgment.

Despite not having any respectable lines to swing around, Hunnam performs admirably in the lead role, working the unwound angle with a certain dignity, sharing solid chemistry with Caplan, who doesn’t have much to do beyond prancing around in a bra made of candy. Roberts serves a cinematic death blow by perverting the goofball effort into a romantic comedy in the final moments, coughing up a break-up-to-make-up finale as a way to leave viewers with something meaningful in a picture of perpetual hooey. “3, 2, 1…Frankie Go Boom” is meant to be this cartwheeling creation of randomness and silliness, but it’s impossible to acquire that tone when the production ignores consistency.

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Chris O'Dowd, Lizzy Caplan, Ron Perlman, Chris Noth, Nora Dunn
Director: Jordan Roberts

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