Directed by Jacob Vaughan. Starring Ken Marino, Patrick Warburton, Mary Kay Place, Stephen Root, Gillian Jacobs, Peter Stormare, Kumail Nanjiani. (2013, R, 85 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 4, 2013
Stress can really fuck your shit up. That's but one of several savvy subtexts taken to literal extremes in one of the most original gross-out comedies in years. Directed by former Austin resident Jacob Vaughan, Bad Milo! has a whip-smart script written by Vaughan and Benjamin Hayes, and goofy genius turns from Stormare (as a New Age-y therapist), Root (as the protagonist's MIA dad), and Place (as his all-too-present mother). The film also overflows with genre homages and in-jokes, among them nods to An American Werewolf in London, Frank Henenlotter's Basket Case films, David Cronenberg's The Brood, Mike Judge's Office Space, Larry Cohen's It's Alive, and at least half a dozen more. Best of all though, Bad Milo! has a ton of heart flourishing amidst its abundant gore, colonoscopies, and truly gag-worthy plot.
Marino effortlessly tackles the "could've-been crappy" role of the anxiety-plagued accountant Duncan, whose (highly relatable) fears and neuroses take on a life of their own in the form of the titular Milo, an anal polyp that emerges from Duncan's backside to wreak vengeance on Duncan's human stressors. Yes, I realize how tasteless, absurd, and ridiculous that sounds, but Marino (along with Jacobs as his sympathetic wife Sarah) walks the finest of comedic fine lines here and brings to his character a panicky sweetness that most of the audience will recognize, especially if they've ever been ensnared by the modern, cubicle-dominated, mid-level workforce.
Vaughan and company have plenty to say about the "age of anxiety," and Fractured FX's practical creature design is a toothy, icky, ultimately adorable metaphor for Duncan's distress. (Imagine a Furby as a hemorrhoid.) Instead of Dr. Morbius’ "monsters from the id" from Fifties sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet (which itself drew heavily from Shakespeare's The Tempest), Bad Milo! gives us "monsters from the ass." Call it odious, call it repugnant, call it downright nasty – just don't call it dumb.