Sunday, November 1, 2020

Wheels of Fortune: Movie Review

An over-the-top trashy comedy that does provide some laughs.

A trash comedy in the vein of Talladega Nights but somehow takes itself less seriously and still has a bit of heart to it. It starts in Tennessee. Bo Jackson is a mechanic for a tractor pull racer and this is because he’s a loser, as he likes to call himself. He has no money and no father, until a big city lawyer shows up with a fancy briefcase and a will from his unknown dead father promising Bo the chance to win money.   2020

Directed by: Shaun Paul Piccinino

Screenplay by: John Ducey

Starring: Matt Jones, John Ducey, Matty Cardarople, Noureen DeWulf

In all of its trashy glory, Wheels of Fortune is funny. The dialogue for the characters simultaneously fits who they are, or the stereotypical assumption of who they are, and is also funny without directly making fun of them. These are red necks, and it’s very easy to laugh at them, but at the same time, they’re probably laughing at themselves.

The star is Matt Jones. If you don’t recognize that name, you will recognize his voice; although, I am ashamed to admit it took me the entire movie to figure out that he’s Badger from Breaking Bad. Ten years later, Badger is now a mullet-wearing, truck-racing, broke-ass bastard. And I really hope that sentence helps make sense of why this movie is fun.

The challenge that his dead father’s will has sent him on is winning a series of races. All different races. We go from a tractor pull to a truck rally, to motor cross, to speed boat racing, to a monster jam. I may have even missed one. At the beginning the races are entertaining (I hate them in real life, but fun in movie form). All the announcers introduce Bo as a bastard – a joke that was funny the first half-dozen times but after twenty times, not nearly so funny. The races also start getting a lot less interesting as the story wears on.

There’s a romance sub-plot, and a never-ending repetition of Bo not having a father. The film wants to be as obvious as possible. Movies in this genre don’t work if they’re subtle and thus everything is over-the-top and purposefully made as obvious as possible so other characters can get in on the joke. It’s part of the charm, but also makes the movie seem really thin after awhile.

John Ducey as Jason, the New York City lawyer, is particularly great as the straight-man to all the red-neck bastard jokes that Bo and his team get in on. But there really does seem to be some respect to these characters. Bo is uneducated and ignorant, misogynistic and homophobic; however, those traits all come from a lack of culture and not hatred. A lack of money and a lack of means to learn anything new, but as he does venture out in the real world, Bo becomes a lot more accepting.

Wheels of Fortune plays like a heartwarming tale by the end, but it works better as a trashy comedy. Netflix lists it as a late night comedy and that’s probably the best way to view it. A buddy comedy while drunk or stoned, this will provide some laughs.