Ryan Reynolds has one of those faces you typically associate with post-modern romantic comedies. A shame, considering how talented the guy actually is. He can play multiple versions of the same character in a movie like “The Nines”, go full-on drama with “Buried”, and portray a superhero so well that even after a bad movie, fans still want him to come back for another round. Now, as it turns out, he can also do comedy! Yes, you heard me. The pretty boy can go dark AND funny at the same time.
The movie follows Jerry Hickfang, a mentally ill loner who lives an isolated life in the woods, only leaving to go to work or see his psychiatrist. He hears voices every day, mostly coming from his cat and dog, who argue whether or not Jerry is evil or good. Jerry himself is not sure, but when his cat suggests that he should murder someone, things take a twisted turn of events.
“The Voices” has been branded a horror comedy, but there really isn’t anything horrifying or hysterical about it. I’d rather categorise it as a dark satire, with a strong emphasis on the darkness. Everything revolves around the idea of a man suffering from what is essentially scizophrenia, and the battle between his personalities, which are embodied by his pets. Jerry, at heart, is a sweet guy, if not socially awkward and out of touch with the rest of the world. He lives inside his own mental bubble, and is afraid that taking his prescribed medicine will make him lonely, because it will repress his only friends – the ones that his mind creates. When you think about it, it’s a genius premise. A man unfit for the world he was born in, whose only escape is the insanity that resides in him.
As far as the execution itself, the movie never really takes full advantage of its intricate set-up. Every act seems wildly different from the other in terms of tone and feel – the first one playing out like an odd psycho rom-com, while the second takes a steep turn down a road of somber melodrama. It is very unclear exactly what the intention is with all the wacky, off-kilter dialogue and lowbrow gags. Admittedly, the filmmakers do try to make some point out of all the madness, and for a good potion of the film, it seems as if we’re heading toward a reveal of some kind. But in the end, it drops the ball completely, and leaves us with an ending so over-the-top, it deflates the balloon entirely. In other words, the film is just as unstable as the lead character himself.
That being said, I’m not trying to undermine the originality and ballsiness exhibited throughout. No, this is indeed an entertaining flick, albeit not as consistently funny and poignant as it would like to be. Ryan Reynolds does a fine job of edging out the line between sympathetic outcast and maniacal lunatic, and even when the movie diverts from its main course, he always remains a highlight of the experience. Anna Kendrick likewise brings a lot of charm and cuteness to the screen, but Reynolds is really the center of attention here. Everything and everyone is secondary to the study of his character, and if he hadn’t held together a show as compelling as he did, this movie would have gone from the obscurely magnetic VOD-fun that it is, to a random and confusing set of bizarre scenarios.