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“One thousand, one hundred and ninety-eight minutes of productivity remaining until the weekend.”
Genre: Dark comedy
Country: United States
Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Judy Greer, Mia Maestro, Missi Pyle, James LeGros, Fay Masterson, Matthew Glave, Chris Coppola, Aubrey Morris, John Paulsen, John Keister, Pat Cashman
Director: Jared Drake
Run time: 94 minutes
DVD distributor: Alliance Films
It’s tempting to compare Visioneers to a lot of other movies. It feels like a lot of other movies. Dark City or Brazil or 12 Monkeys or some such thing. There are a lot of movies set in a dystopian imagined future where Big Brother watches over people and people are forced into fake happiness and people work in bizarre offices doing menial, repetitive and mind-crushingly boring jobs. I have seen movies just like this over and over and over. But then, I have wanted to see them over and over. I like this type of movie in general, and they are generally quite good. Visioneers is no exception.
There are some touches that make the movie stand out. Some are neat, some are contrived, but all are small. People greet each other with a raised middle finger, like that’s how they say hello. And everyone, for some reason, mis-pronounces “chaos”, emphasising the “ch”. The middle finger feels contrived, the “chaos” is a really bizarre nice touch. At first, I thought the epidemic of people exploding was another contrived eccentricity. Until I saw the first person actually explode, about halfway through the film, and I then thought it was one of the funniest moments I had ever seen. Hilarious!
The cover of the DVD, there is a quote from Comedy Central saying “in a just world, Zach Galifianakis would be a movie star”. The main reason for this, I imagine, is his name more than anything else. I’m not saying change your last name to “Morris”, but Zac Efron is a star. And Zach Braff is a star. Both are less talented, and their stardom is almost inexplicable. Except that they have shorter names. I think that’s it. But with movies like this one and The Hangover, I think that Galifianakis is well on his way.
He is fabulous as George Washington Winsterhammerman (perhaps the only name more cumbersome than Galifianakis itself), a mid-level (literally) employee in a strange office tower run by the Most Successful Corporation In The History Of The World, the Jeffers Corporation. He is a Level Three, a level based apparently on some kind of IQ test. The higher your test scores, the higher in the building you work. Level Five is the top, Level One is the bottom. And so forth. George is infatuated with a woman who keeps calling him from Level Four, although he has never met her.
George has a wife and a son, but his son has locked himself in his room, apparently for the duration of the movie. His brother has just moved into his house with him, but his brother has apparently checked out of the tedium of this life entirely, and spends all his time in the back yard practising his pole vaulting skills. Again, bonkers, but really interesting. Everyone is given many opportunities for happiness – funny hats and giant talking teddy bears abound, and apparently a 12-gauge shotgun is a solid tool for the achievement of happiness as well.
Eventually, George decides he must get out of the doldrums of life in this creepy future. He tries to seek out the woman from the floor above, who has also given up on that job and that life. The end isn’t quite as bleak as in other, similar movies, but it works well. In fact, most of Visioneers works well. It’s a little uneven, and there are moments that stand out because they are contrived and weird simply for the sake of weird, but the tone and the atmosphere of the film are magnificent, and Galifianakis is terrific. Practice saying his name. He will be a movie star.