What cult film is all about

S ure he’s a normal guy; he just has a flaming skull where a head should be. No. He’s not Ghost Rider. He has no agenda of cosmic balance or whatever. He’s just a kid. Best part? He isn’t even the main character. Vinz (voice of Mark Ryan Haltom), our flaming skull dude, is mostly scenery. The screen belongs to the alien-ish Angelino (Tay Lee), an eight-ball with eyes and a disproportionately small body. And he has powers. Oooooooo.

Angelino lives in Dark Meat City (DMC), a depressing, crime-filled, and probably American metropolis (wasn’t quite sure on that one). And I wonder if Dark Meat City gets more popular around the holidays, especially Thanksgiving. No matter. “Ange” works as a delivery boy. Not sure what he delivers. And it seems he has some telekinetic ability that he -as a teenager- is just now discovering. That’s unclear, too. And there are forces of good and evil attracted to the power the young eight-ball is displaying; but those, too, are ill-defined. Ok, what is clear are Ange’s friends. He shares a roach-hole with sklaming-full Vinz and some sort of personified mammal –perhaps from the bobcat family—named Willy (Ray Chung).

All three of these teens have roughly a 1:1 head-to-rest-of-body volume ratio. I think that’s how they found one another, because the other beings of DMC seem … normal. Their apartment and lifestyle is very Beavis and Butt-Head in nature. Ange survives entirely on the same box of dry cereal he’s been sharing with cockroaches. Now, wait. Before you get al, “COCKROACHES!! EWWWWW!!” Please note these guys are trained better than any housecat. They don’t raid the near-bare cupboard; they wait patiently to be called to dinner.

Mutafukaz has been accused of anarchic leanings, but I think you have to understand it completely to get its political point of view. I did not. This cartoon mixed a fair amount of violence with occasional hyperbole and a random fourth-wall joke or two. At one point, the French print over screen reads, “Can you believe this guy’s head is still on fire?” and “What’s going on here?” Super … even the film doesn’t know what it’s doing. What chance do I have?

There’s a disturbing quality to Mutafukaz; I’m not quite sure it’s racism, but I’m not quite sure it isn’t racism, either. Mutafukaz is a Japanese-French collaborative, which would suggest an open “We Are the World” kind of thing, but it really is difficult to tell what this cartoon is saying. Perhaps if I understood French or read the source material, I’d get more insight, but once is enough here. It’s hard to pan a film bold enough to go with the (obviously charged) name “Mutafukaz” or one so goofy that it easily lends itself to comparisons of “Beavis & Butt-head,” yet, I’m not exactly lauding the work here, either. This was a strange trip, and occasionally a pleasant one, but not enough to justify or recommend a viewing. That said — Mutafukaz is like the mother of cult films, so don’t be surprised if some obscure counter-culturist among your secondary or tertiary group of friends thinks this is the best film they have ever seen.

I suppose it’s my standard sermon
They couldn’t just own an ermine
Don’t want to appall
Stay out of the hall
The big heads are walking their vermin

Not Rated, 90 Minutes
Director: Shôjirô Nishimi, Guillaume Renard
Writer: Guillaume Renard
Genre: Guess the message. No, you’re wrong.
Type of being most likely to enjoy this film: Cult film enthusiasts
Type of being least likely to enjoy this film: People whose animation tolerance doesn’t extend beyond Disney

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