Review: Paul Blart gets his script flipped and eye gouged in the goofy, lurid Becky

Given that Becky sees Kevin James as a neo-Nazi leader outsmarted by Joel McHale’s teenage daughter, it may be mistaken for a dark comedy. It isn’t. Like Home Alone before it, the unlikelihood of a pint-sized 10-to-13-year-old taking down some middle-aged criminals is the only real “joke” of the situation here. But while Home Alone played its over-the-top violence for laughs, Becky plays them with visceral, jaw-dropping brutality. A title sequence showing off the title character’s doodles is practically the only time her teenage girldom is on display. It’s not a movie about how a clueless eight grader ‘Grams and “yeets” her way through a high-stakes hostage situation. This is a straight-faced, stone-cold, one-liner-free, bloody-as-hell Die Hard-in-a-cottage. It’s arguably not the most interesting approach to the premise, but for what it is, it makes for a corny but fun-enough hundred minutes.

The film opens on Becky’s (Lulu Wilson) father pulling her out of school to visit their remote cabin (always a bad move) for a weekend with Dad’s fiancée (Amanda Brugel) and her young son. At the same time, neo-Nazi inmate Dominick (James) and his right-hand man, an increasingly-gentle giant unsubtly named Apex (Robert Maillet), are being transferred between prisons, conveniently giving them an opportunity to escape. Dom and his cronies—he meets up with a couple more chums soon after his break-out—are after a MacGuffin equal parts Pulp Fiction and racist Indiana Jones: an engraved, possibly magical Nazi key that will somehow restore the races to their divine purposes, whatever that means. It’s never explained how this key would possibly do that, so if you’re looking to restore the races to their divine purposes, this movie is not going to help you out. Sorry.

Anyway, for reasons likewise unexplained, this key has been kept in a little tin that just happens to be in the cabin basement. So, while Becky is off in her nearby clubhouse in a huff—that she’s very much still mourning her mother, who died of cancer a year prior, is repeatedly emphasized—Dom and the White Power Boys take over the cabin in search of their prize. Unfortunately for them, Becky already found the key years ago and has it squirreled off in her clubhouse. The dudes already shot one of her dogs, though, and with her dad in peril, she’s coming after them with abrupt sadism. The man who was mall cop now finds himself on the other side of the Die Hard scenario. The Blart has become the Blarted.

Star Wilson, through little fault of her own, gives a largely one-dimensional performance. Her arc from withdrawn, petulant teen to psychopathic multi-murderer is basically nonexistent, happening in a snap and with both sides played behind nearly the same angered scowl. Brief flashbacks to her time with her dying mother tack on some hollow gravitas, but Becky isn’t much of a character.

In his radical shift from blue-collar goofball to hate-crime perpetrator, James fits the part but never grows beyond it. He absolutely seems like he could be a swastika-tattooed white supremacist, yet given how much monologuing he gets in here, he could use to chew the scenery a bit more. His convincing villain does not make for a memorable one. Kevin James memes will not yet be replacing Joker memes.

While directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion try to liven up the familiar formula with some flashy match cuts and other clever little filmmaking tricks, there’s no hiding that Becky is cheap, B-movie schlock through and through—and that’s most of its charm. A woodland thriller with a single set, completely forgettable characters, a slight cast, a thin script, and over-the-top carnage, it’s shocking more often than it’s ever really very good. It’s basically just about waiting to see what gruesome way the next racist asshole is going to get offed, but it’s hard to deny the visceral thrill of that alone. Dumb, self-serious, genre gore-fests certainly have their place on the rental VHS wall, and this ranks at least modestly among them. Becky may not be a comedy, but the outrageousness of the brutality is enough to earn a couple chuckles. And it’s not like it’s entirely laughless.

In one of Dominick’s bad-guy monologues, he repeatedly emphasizes that his plan—the big “plan” being to somehow overwhelm the two guards (it’s done off-screen, so who knows), use the guard’s guns to hijack a car, then go get the key—somehow involved over 54,000 hours of thought. That’s pretty fucking funny.

Grade: C+

Directors: Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion
Studio: Quiver
Runtime: 100 minutes
Rating: R
Cast: Lulu Wilson, Kevin James, Joel McHale, Robert Maillet, Amanda Brugel

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