Review: Bad Johnson

Huck Botko’s film asks us to laugh at, even revel in, the misadventures of womanizing men, even as it condemns them for their behavior.

Bad Johnson

In the first scene of Bad Johnson, Rich Johnson (Cam Gigandet) engages in sexual intercourse with an attractive redhead that hinges on much dirty talk and coital grunting. When another attractive woman, a blonde this time, walks in on them, her jaw drops. “You’re fucking my sister?” she yells, feeling betrayed, right after Rich smiles and turns on a demeanor of nonchalance: “Not what it looks like, babe.” That’s the level of humor that Huck Botko’s film sticks with for the length of its running time, asking us to laugh at, even revel in, the misadventures of womanizing men, even as it condemns them for their behavior. By the end, Rich is celebrated for his transformation from bad to good boy, while every woman he “ruins” on his journey to enlightenment is forgotten, a footnote in a larger moral story.

In Bad Johnson, the eternal struggle between id and ego is literalized in the most obvious way possible. After Rich cheats on a subsequent girlfriend, Jamie (Jamie Chung), his johnson is transformed, with barely an explanation, into a living, breathing man with a penis of his own and a bad attitude. Played by comedian Nick Thune as a charisma-less impersonation of Russell Brand, the titular dick makes Rich’s life hell by turning his apartment into a den of hedonistic excess by bringing over women and prostitutes to fulfill his various “needs.” Of course, the anthropomorphization of Rich’s penis is a brutally obvious metaphor for Rich’s struggle, as the man must learn to control his penis before he can lead a fulfilling life as the male half of a productive heterosexual partnership.

“A guy turning down sex is like a dog turning down chocolate, it doesn’t happen,” one character says later in the film, propagating gendered stereotypes like they were self-evident truths and hoping for laughs in return. Imagine, for a moment, a gender-reversed Bad Johnson—call it Bad Delilah—in which a woman’s genitals are transformed into a sex-starved woman who must be controlled so that, say, Kitty Delilah can enter her own fulfilling monogamous relationship with a generic, good-looking, personality-void man. Chances are, if that man was Rich Johnson, Kitty wouldn’t stand a chance. In Rich’s world, only men are permitted to be promiscuous, while women are treated as little more than rewards for good behavior.

 Cast: Cam Gigandet, Nick Thune, Jamie Chung, Kevin Miller, Katherine Cunningham  Director: Huck Botko  Screenwriter: Jeff Tetreault  Distributor: Gravitas Ventures  Running Time: 88 min  Rating: R  Year: 2014  Buy: Video

Alan Jones

Alan Jones is a wound-up ball of neuroses with big ol’ googly eyes and a receding hairline. He has written for Hazlitt, VICE, NOW, and Toronto Standard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story

Review: Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon

Next Story

Review: Ida