The Internet has been abuzz with pictures, videos and news snippets touting the return of Deadpool in a big way. There's not a comic book nerd alive who isn't stoked for next year's revival of the Merc With a Mouth! But, while we're 'waiting' (See what I did there?), LIONSGATE has spearheaded a little known independent movie with the wise cracking Reynolds at the helm. The Voices gives us a totally different look at the actor who is best known for his deadpan, cutting sarcasm. In this movie, Reynolds plays Jerry, a "chipper guy clocking the nine-to-five at a bathtub factory." But don't let this glib intro fool you. Jerry's hiding a tragic past and suffering from severe mental illness, even if in silence. But where this suffering takes him brings us a strange mixture of tragedy and comedy.
Reynolds is definitely the centerpiece of this movie. Gemma Arterton's past works (Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia: Sands of Time) are forgettable, although I enjoyed her in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. She is relatively unknown. She does however get a lot of screen time and works as the eye-candy of the movie. I didn't recognize Anna Kendrick at all. The last time I saw her in a film was Scott Pilgrim vs. The World as his sister Stacey. In The Voices she plays a lonely office girl pining for Jerry, but, for most of the movie, she is invisible to him. Even toward the end, I expected her to reveal that she was talking to her cat and that they could live happily ever after as Mr. and Mrs. Serial Killer. Everyone else was totally forgettable.
Oh, did I say "serial killer?" Yes, it is obvious from the trailer that Jerry has issues. As usual, not sure if it's just cliché or so true, the deep seeded problems Jerry has goes back to his conflict with his father (#DaddyIssuesFTW) and a nifty little gift from his mother, mental illness. Now, at first, I thought using mental problems as a plot device to make us laugh would be demeaning to those who live with such issues. But, it is clear by the end of the movie that this is not the case. This movie actually reads as a Public Service Announcement for taking the meds that you are prescribed. It's almost like, "now take your pills kids or you will end up like Jerry."
But it is also quite artistic in its handling of the subject. What we see, for the most part, is what Jerry sees. While he is off his medication, things stay clean, cheery and bright. We find out about halfway through the movie - after the one time he actually takes his pills - that the reality is far different. In fact, you will find that the deep, philosophical undertones of the movie are centered around how Jerry deals or doesn't deal with his problems.
Ryan does awkward well. Ryan brings us a character quite unlike ANY he has every played in Jerry. Unlike Hannibal King (Blade III), Monty (Waiting) and, of course, Deadpool, Jerry is a kind, sweet man with only good things to say about everybody. You won't be getting the regular wisecracks and snide remarks. Not from Jerry, at least. But you will get two other sides of Reynolds in this movie as he plays the voices that Jerry hears from his pets, Mr. Whiskers (the evil cat) and Bosco (his kind and encouraging dog). Part of the illness inherited from his mother are the voices. Throughout the movie, you will get this angelic/demonic dialogue that will guide Jerry between the gray areas of good and evil. But even the smartass cat doesn't come off like the old sarcastic Reynolds. No, Mr. Whiskers takes a darker, more abusive tone. At least half of the R rating comes from the filthy language of the cat. Nonetheless, you find yourself chuckling at his abuse at times.
That sums up the whole movie. First you gasp. Then you laugh. Then you scold yourself for laughing at something so dark. Then you tell yourself to lighten up. The viewer will deal with their own struggle between how funny and yet, how gruesome this movie is. Even the psychiatrist tries to include us in his darkness with her speech at the end about how everybody has "thoughts" that they don't have to act on. This seems to surprise Jerry. I was left unconvinced of our likeness to the disturbed nature of the main character. But, as I said, you will have discussions with your own inner voices about the nature and message of this movie.
Now, don't get me wrong. There were funny moments. I found everybody can apparently pick locks. Jerry's discussion with a fish at the Chinese restaurant is priceless. He was quite definitely the worst serial killer ever. The only love scenes we get are televised animal porn. The pets score some awesome lines. Most of the comedy is in the absurdity of the situation. At times, the movie is hard to watch. You'll find yourself laughing, gasping and crying for Jerry and that's a credit to Reynolds' acting ability. He proves he can be the character he needs to be in any setting.
I'm also sure he was glad to put this movie behind him and ink the deal for the Deadpool movie. My first reaction to this movie was, "Obviously, he lost a bet." But the movie proved to be good and worth a watch, even if it was hard to view at times. I'm not sure I would encourage you to buy this DVD until you get a chance to rent it and give it an honest watch. After that, you can decide if it's worth a purchase.
Me? I can't wait to see Reynolds back to his wise-ass ways in Deadpool next year!