Fried Barry

2 out of 5

Directed by: Ryan Kruger

I know it’s wrong to judge a movie by its poster art – just as I’m sure there’s some confirmation bias involved when that 1 out of 100 movies that you predict front to back based off of said art ignores the other 99 – but regardless, I knew exactly what kind of movie Fried Barry was, just at a glance. The drug-culture suggesting name; the neon color highlights; the closeup of “Barry” (Gary Green), all frazzled and freaked out looking… I knew what it was, and I was hoping my predictions would be denied. I’ll give the film some credit for panache – when director Ryan Kruger isn’t finding it endlessly amusing to do fish-eye closeups of characters, making funny faces, the presumably low budget is really effectively applied across some great locations / set dressing to maintain the flick’s particularly grungy vibe. There are a couple of appreciative grindhouse touches – limited to flashes, also probably because of budget – that help to mash this particular genre of drug-trip flick into the horror scene, and while I’m not sure if Green can actually act or not, the actor and director absolutely stick to his bug-eyed personification throughout. So that’s all something.

But after the first few minutes, in which we’re introduced to heroin addict, lazy father, all-around nasty-type Barry, who wanders around a Cape Town populated by, apparently, all people rather exactly like him, the movie inevitably makes one wonder if this is going to be the extent of any character developments we get, and – yes. A little while later, when Barry scores some horse and then goes a’wandering, leading to dream-sequence flash-cuts of him being sucked up by an alien ship, then redeposited in Cape Town with a different being residing within him, the proceeding fortyish minutes will make one wonder if the movie is going to be an endless sequence of R-rated fish-out-of-water gags, in which our alien-inside-Barry is subjected to plenty of partying, and sexing, and drugging – which, I remind you again, is all this film’s population seems to care about. The answer, again, is yes, this is all the movie is going to be, relying on Green making funny faces as he does E, or gets a blowjob.

After the intermission – because of course there’s a fucking retro intermission – the movie finds some linearity, as Barry is kidnapped, then eventually finds himself in a mental hospital (depicted in classic movie sleaze style, with muttering folk wandering the halls), but the gag is ultimately the same. The general visual solidity of the presentation (fish eye lensed and rote flash-cut moments aside) and occasionally successful over-the-top ideas help make this watchable, but by the same token, this is a concept we’ve seen done quite better in numerous other ways, and I found myself pausing the movie a lot, rolling my eyes at how much remaining runtime there was.