Many criticize Dr. Uwe Boll as a hack, a horrible filmmaker and a blow-hard. They see the crazed German threatening to box critics—knocking out a college colleague of mine, Jeff “MiraJeff” Sneider, who became the unwitting shield for Ain’t It Cool when the two original critics refused to appear—and even directors who embody the “Hollywood Hack” moniker (yes, I mean him.)
But after six years, Boll has released his finest film. Yes, it is another video game adaptation of an 11-year-old first-person shooter—technically of its sequel—about a guy who simply gives up on society and begins a kamikaze attack on the stereotypes he’s been forced to live with. And why is it so good?
Because it is a gigantic “fuck you,” like a 99-minute version of Monty Brogan’s ode to New York in The 25th Hour. Boll’s Postal has largely been seen solely by critics and scant film festival attendees desperate to see how they can eviscerate Herr Doktor further.
To break the wall for a moment, even at the early evening screening I attended with many older critics, Postal was a travesty. It is an ugly, awkward film that can’t figure out where it is going or what it should be doing. It knows it must create the semblance of a plot for the titular “Postal Guy” (Zach Ward) and how he eventually gets out of the so-ironically-named-it-hurts city of Paradise. My fellow critics reared back and a few—the gray haired, aging types—muttered “how could he” at the satirical take on the 9/11 hijacking, which has spread more by word of mouth than has actually been seen.
The film is like taking a baseball bat wrapped in C-level stereotypes and bashing the (non-existent) audience to a pulp until they finally recognize the reference. Yet, it establishes the brilliance of Boll’s run-’n-gun filmmaking. The game calls for Gary Coleman, who refused to appear in the film, as the spokesperson for Krotchy dolls, which are little scrotums with eyes that blurt “Only my father and my priest can touch me there!” So, he goes one better: he gets Verne Troyer.
He also casts Dave Foley (Kids in the Hall) as “Uncle Dave,” a pot-smoking, sex-crazed religious leader who walks around his bedroom after sleeping with five plastic bimbos and lets his full-frontal dick flop around. Boll even inserts himself into the equation as the proprietor of “Little Germany,” whose sign is painted over “Little Holland” in one of the best inside jokes, and says during an on-stage interview:
“You all probably heard of the rumors that my movies are financed with Nazi gold. Well, what shall I say? It’s true!”
Boll, clad in lederhosen, pauses and then continues:
“But you know, up here on stage, seeing all these people—especially these children—I just feel horny, you know? I feel like I want to fuck—”
The interviewer cuts in, “Are you fucking serious!?”
And that’s the big question: can Boll possibly be serious? He’s denied being a modern-day Ed Wood and has put up with petitions demanding he stop making films. Most of the sites that decry Boll, like gaming blog Kotaku, seem to do so because they know he is so popular. Posts on Boll’s hijinks can find between 4,000 and 60,000 hits—nearly a freelancer’s dream salary when taking the infamous Gawker pay-per-click scale into account.
Yet Postal is something more than a cult film. It is a reactionary grenade against film critics ranging from staff to the lowly Internet folk; it shows that the director is painfully aware of more than just the “mainstream media.” He’s heard everyone and is desperate for affection. But upon the recent news that the film is only being released on four screens nationwide, it begins to sink in that this film was solely meant for Boll’s critics. The “public” or casual film audience was never supposed to see this movie with a gratuitous, albeit hilarious sequence of children being shot by terrorists; the public were never supposed to see caricatures of George W. Bush and Osama bin Ladin skipping through a corn-field to “Happy Together” as mushroom clouds blossom. (Another “subtlety” to appreciate: that Boll’s straight-to-video Bloodrayne 2: Deliverance uses most, if not all, of the actors from Postal and was filmed in the same time and area).
Postal is an expert film in the hands of a director who is extremely capable in crafting his public image and knows how to manipulate his favorite audience: the overtly-reactionary critics that attack his work. It is low budget, crude and intentional in every boobie shot. It is offensive, annoying and likely to make no money. But it shows the heart of a filmmaker who can accept the role he’s shoe-horned himself into. In today’s hack world, the modern Ed Wood is surpassing his predecessor.
John Lichman is a freelance writer who contributes to The Reeler, Primetime A&E [print only] and anyone with cash. He works odd jobs to afford his vices, sleeps on couches and can drink Vadim Rizov under a table.