I realize that this animal of a movie is not supposed to be tame but it is too out of control to enjoy. An art movie that tried too hard to be an art movie.
To put it nicely, American Animal is an absurd indie movie about a man living with his reckless best friend who is not only mentally ill but physically ill as well. To put it bluntly, it is an art movie that tried too hard to be an art movie. American Animal is an experience, albeit an unpleasant one.
A long hair scruffy face man named Jimmy (Matt D’Elia) wakes up in his hot pink underwear coughing up blood. He then proceeds to finish a whole bottle of water from all the pills he needs to take. Jimmy is a hyperactive eccentric human being who annoys his roommate James (Brendan Fletcher) as much as he does us as viewers.
Act One in the film begins when two attractive looking ladies both named Angela arrive at their front door. We do not know how, or more importantly why, they arrive there but they do. They seem perfectly content to sit around watching Jimmy’s shenanigans which involve; trying to be Dean Martin, lecture them about not doing drugs while doing drugs, and pretending it is Christmas even though it is August.
Trouble arises in Act Two when Jimmy finds out that James got a job, which he needs to wake up for in the morning. This disturbs the jobless fantasy world that they currently have which is supported by their rich fathers. Jimmy believes jobs are overrated and conforming because jobs are what society what you to have.
It is Jimmy’s world and he makes the rules. As the title states, Jimmy is an American animal who either does not know social normality’s or choices not to follow them. He makes this all very blunt throughout the entire film between his long winded blabbering.
The Third Act is worth watching, if you can make it that far. For the first time in the film it is revealed why Jimmy may act the way he does. He shows his weakness but not enough for us to really empathize with his character. I believe that would be nearly impossible to do.
My biggest problem with the American Animal is that scenes go on for far too long without any significant result coming from them. It is frustrating and hard to sit through when the dialog is mostly non-sense that never really goes anywhere. I realize that this animal of a movie is not supposed to be tame but it is too out of control to enjoy.
I do have to give some credit to Matt D’Elia, who does not just star in the film but was also the writer, director, editor, and producer of it. Even though I did not find his performance satisfying, you have to appreciate the hard work he put in. American Animal did show guts and originality which makes me want to remember his name for future projects of his.
If there is one thing that American Animal had it was style. However, there were several things the movie did not have; an engaging plot, a script, and good acting. It is a movie that would be best served as a short instead of a 90 minute feature. Andy Warhol once said, “Art is what you can get away with”, while this particular performance art piece got away with labeling itself art, it did not get away with a pleasant experience.