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HACKS (director/writer: Glenn Rockowitz; cinematographer: James Carman; editors: Brian Bulman/Glenn Rockowitz; music: David Morgan; cast: Jim Gaffigan (Arty Hittle), Michael Rispoli (Al DeMarco), Victor Varnado (Otis), Bart Shattuck (Bart), Glenn Rockowitz (Lucius Diamond), Ken Forman (Ron Kunterberger), David G. Cohen (Baxter Hutz), Perry Wolberg (Skully), John Roach (Roachy), Angela Muto (Slappy); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hila Yaish; Film Threat DVD; 2002)
“It might be the perfect frat house flick.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It’s hard to explain what makes someone laugh. Comedy is, probably, the toughest medium to work in, and the most difficult type of film to make and judge. With that being said, let me come clean and say that I have no love for stand-up comedians (at least, I can’t think of anyone at the moment to admire), and if I’m partial to any comedian it would be someone like Lenny Bruce who put his ass on the line to attack the sacred cows. That not a one of the moderns tickles my funny bone, I realize, might say more about me than the comedians! Nevertheless, over the last few years, I have come to enjoy the mockumentary for its subversive nature and more subtle approach it brings to comedy, especially the ones Christopher Guest pulls out of his hat like “a Mighty Wind” and “Best in Show.” Hacks’ talented director-writer-actor Glenn Rockowitz is responsible for this inspired mockumentary in the Guest tradition. It offers a barrage of sub-cultural humor from a bunch of mediocre and unoriginal aspiring stand-up comedians who are from the fictional Diamond (Glenn Rockowitz) and Hutz (David G. Cohen) talent agency in Manhattan. They pull off one bad joke after another and are oblivious to any feedback; the humor is certainly not in their material but lies in the cumulative effect of all the comic acts. These niche acts (black albino insult comedian, female vagina quipster forced to wear a hockey mask due to the reactions of the hostile audience, non-communicative alternative comic, an insensitive wheelchair-bound loser, an inept celebrity impersonator and so on) are given free rein when the agency gets them all a gig to perform at the “Upstate Comedy and Poultry Festival.” They do so to the nth degree spoofing both themselves and the audience for their lack of taste.

My trouble with Rockowitz’s film is not with his intentions or being offended by his irreverence or use of foul language, but that it felt like I was stuck in a Las Vegas hotel watching someone like Don Rickles being targeted by someone doing Rickles. Since I have never been partial to stand-up comedians and have never cared for shows like Saturday Night Live, I find that I might not be the best person to judge if the film hit the mark or not in its spoofing. The film seems freakier than Guest’s, but I can’t say that I enjoyed it more.

It might be the perfect frat house flick, and might be especially suited for those not afraid of spilling beer on the carpet or pissing in public view. Hacks is a crude entertainment treat that has fun not being politically correct and shocking the viewer with inappropriate ethnic, sexist and handicap jokes. If that’s your cup of poison then, at last, you have your kind of film.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”