David Cross is one of the best comedians working in the business today. His blunt, unmerciful opinion carries through his routine as he nails each punchline with the right amount of sarcastic wit. But as clever as he is, Cross’ brand of curt comedy needs to form in a new direction if he plans on carrying on making movies.
HITS marks the comic’s directorial debut, and he also penned the screenplay that skewers personalities obsessed with fame and/or on a journey to find selfish satisfaction. We have Dave (played by Matt Walsh) who is wanting justice from local hierarchy at town meetings, his daughter Katelyn (played by Meredith Hagner) who lusts for the life of a pop culture icon, and freelance employees (James Adomian and Erinn Hayes) who conduct business through Etsy – an online craft service. These characters, and more, are all connected through the wonderful world wide web.
Adomian’s Donovan catches wind of Dave’s angry passion through a viral video, and decides to take action. Donovan, along with his hipster “world changing” cronies string together a campaign to assist Dave. This small acknowledgment turns into a media circus when other outside sources latch on, leaving Katelyn wondering why her disheveled dad has gotten famous before her.
It’s quite clear David Cross thinks all of this is stupid. From watching HITS, I observed the comic display the current generation of YouTubers lounging through life as everyone else enables them to do so.
It’s fine for Cross to hang his head in disappointment and it’s great he wants to make a movie where, essentially, he tells every self-entitled video blogging activist on the Internet to “wake up!”. The characachures he mirrors in HITS taking shots at impersonal faux pas are often funny, and the cast members are bang-on when impersonating their egotistical windbag.
HITS is all fun and games until Cross wants us to laugh at how these people feel. That sounds contradictory considering my praise for the film’s depictions of fame obsession, but let me explain.
We may not agree with the characters in HITS and we realize they’re all silly, but the audience believes these characters nonetheless. So, when Cross tells us to laugh at the passion these people exude and not at what they’re striving for, the writer/director takes a more pessimistic swing at these targets. The humour in HITS starts to mock anyone who ever thrived for anything. It’s okay for Cross to be opinionated through this medium towards topics, but belittling everyone’s ability to aspire sours the comedy.
The final blowup HITS builds towards is hilarious, leading to a pitch black perfect send-up these characters all deserve. However, for the viewer, getting there is an incredibly slippery slope.