Who knew that Kevin Sorbo could do comedy? I certainly didn’t. Sure, some of the guy’s movies are pretty funny, but I doubt they were filmed with that intent. Director Garrett Brawith’s 2011 action parody “Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury”, on the other hand, takes the iconic action hero and thrusts him into a “Naked Gun”-style comedy that attempts to lampoon every genre cliche known to mankind. Like most comedies of this nature, some of the jokes work, and some of them do not. Don’t let the over-the-top acting and the lousy special effects fool you — this one is meant to be terrible, though it would appear that some select viewers simply weren’t in on the joke. And that’s a shame, really, because “Poolboy” has a lot to offer those who are as obsessed with explosions as I am. Here’s hoping there are others out there.
Taking cues from the infinitely hilarious yet grossly underrated “Garth Merenghi’s Dark Place”, the film is intercut with sequences involving a one-eyed filmmaker named St. James St. James (read: Saint James Street James, because he hates abbreviations), the man responsible for creating the two “Poolboy” films when he was ten. His segments, I feel, are a hell of a lot funnier than they have any right to be. At first you’ll hate the guy, but as the movie wears on, you’ll come to appreciate his behind-the-scenes banter, thanks in part to a strong performance from Ross Patterson. The guy’s delivery is spot-on, and, honestly, I’d love to see an entire series of films devoted to the guy. No joke. He’s easily the best part of the entire feature.
The rest of the experience is dedicated to our titular hero (Kevin Sorbo), a Vietnam veteran who, after watching his best friend get blown apart on the battlefield, returns home to California with dreams of starting his own pool cleaning business. His wife, meanwhile, isn’t too excited that her estranged husband has returned home after spending years overseas, nor is she willing to part ways with the hunky Hispanic guy who’s currently taking up residence in their bedroom. Heartbroken but determined, Poolboy sets out to make his dreams become a reality, even if he has to destroy every Mexican pool cleaner on the west coast in order to do so. By the way — if racist jokes aren’t your forte, you’re going to be highly offended by this one.
Once the revenge side of “Poolboy” kicks in, things really start to get interesting. The action often comes fast and furious, presented in a suitably podunk style that works quite well with the flick’s campy atmosphere. Cameos are also a big part of the feature’s appeal; Danny Trejo, Jason Mewes, Mark “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper” Curry, and the always adorable Alanna Ubach all make notable appearances, ranging from throwaway (Mewes) to inappropriately amusing (Ubach). Brawith takes the rapid fire approach to comedy, tossing as many gags and potential guffaws at the camera in hopes that one of them makes some sort of impact. It’s more “Postal” than “Black Dynamite”, but it’s fun, and, ultimately, that’s what matters most with a flick like this. Assuming, of course, you can endure the journey’s numerous bumps and potholes.
I have a strong feeling that my opinion of “Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury” will differ from yours. It’s easily one of the dumbest action/comedies I’ve ever seen, rivaling only the “Police Academy” sequels in terms of shamelessly moronic content. Some may be quick to criticize the film’s wooden performances, though I see them as comedic brilliance. Yes, “Poolboy” is a movie that may only appeal to those of us who love, well, bad comedies. Believe it or not, we do exist. And while stuff like this is nothing short of ecstasy for the few who suffer from this curious cinematic affliction, the general population will probably hate it with an undying passion. I’ve watched the movie three times now — THREE TIMES — and I keep finding more things I love about it. From where I’m seated, “Poolboy” is genius. Just don’t be horribly surprised when you despise it.
Garrett Brawith (director) / Ross Patterson (screenplay)
CAST: Kevin Sorbo … Poolboy
Ross Patterson … Saint James St. James
Danny Trejo … Caesar
Jason Mewes … Doug
Edi Patterson … Peters
Bryan Callen … Eduardo
Mark Curry … Captain O’Malley
Robert LaSardo … Spider
Alanna Ubach … Karen