Bad Milo (2013) Sometimes It Takes Guts.

So today's review is going to get a little personal. It's going to get deep, and by deep I mean that deep down churning feeling when guts twist and distend, when the abdomen cramps and the body heaves into a cold sweat. Everyone has felt it from time to time. Food poisoning and sickness cam often bring such a condition on, but for an unlucky few, allergies or stress can cause such an episode and really put a damper on general existence. I myself have had a lifelong intolerance of the lactose variety. Certainly there are ways to avoid milk, soy or rice alternatives, the Lactaid products, balancing probiotics, but no matter what, let's face it, milk is delicious, and it's in everything. So generally, I just deal with it. I might not eat cereal or milk all the time, but cheese, you've had cheese, right? That's some good stuff.

Over the years this has lead to much consideration of my bowels, and at one point in my life, I faced the inevitability of ulcers if I didn't change my diet and reduce stress. I had been going through intestinal spasming, which is as fun feeling as it is to think about. With changes to my eating habits and less fucks given than ever before, I managed to avoid further complications and drink less milkshakes. (This really ruins things when I go to a There Will Be Blood themed party.) By now, you have to be wondering why you're reading so much about my gastroenterological woes, and there is a good reason. I think it puts be in a special place to talk about today's film, Bad Milo, because like myself, part of the film's protagonist is intolerant, but, instead of a tummy ache, part of his tummy puts the hurt on someone else.

Ken (Ken Marino) has stomach issues. He's tried everything, and nothing brings relief. When he's diagnosed with an intestinal polyp, his doctor also recommends he see a hypnotherapist (Toby Huss) to try and work through some of his emotional issues. After all, Ken's shady boss (Patrick Warburton) wants him to fire people and puts his office in a bathroom, his Mom (Mary Kate Place) has married a much younger, and sexually open, man (Kumail Nanjiani), his Dad (Stephen Root) is a burnout who lives in the hills, and his well meaning wife (Gillian Jacobs) is ready to start a family. It turns out, with a little hypnosis, that Ken already has a little bundle of joy of his own. Except, what’s inside of Ken is a demon who lives in his ass and has taken to coming out and slaying Ken’s enemies in what have been deemed a series of “rabid raccoon attacks”. With no other choice, Ken tries to make peace with the ass demon he begins to call Milo, but before Ken gets peace, some more people are going to be torn to pieces.

So do I wish that instead of an afternoon sitting on the porcelain throne that a demon would come out of my ass and kill people like in Bad Milo? Sure, kind of. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. In the next incarnation, if I'm intolerant of something I hope it's race or gender or something that doesn't end in diarrhea. I mean, if people go out and marginalize others, they don't have to make sure they know where the local stores with good toilets are, but if I eat a scoop of Tutti Frutti ice cream, I am fucked. There would be a lot less sexists and racists if it caused the Hershey squirts. That's all I'm saying. I'm also saying that I can appreciate the internal discord that Ken is going through. While lactose might be my trigger, anyone with a chronically sour stomach can tell you that a bad day at work, an unexpected bill, or any number of things can cause an episode. I'm sure there are Zen-like techniques for dealing with issues like this, but I don't have the patience for those. I just take Imodium and hope for the best. Ken, of course, doesn't have a magic pill that will stifle his runaway emotional monster.

Horror films have often throughout their history dealt with the duality of man or the beast within. The best examples come often from Werewolves and tales of Dr. Jekyll, but movies like Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and even Gremlins, an obvious influence on Bad Milo, make note of our bipolar nature. Bad Milo Writer-director Jacob Vaughn and co-writer Benjamin Hayes craft a film that contains absurdity, scatological humor, and a hunk of gore while still managing to get a serious message about harnessing one's emotional center across. The best thing is that the message isn't tied up in a bow and delivered to the viewers’ feet. In fact, if you want to see the movie as just being about an ass demon that attacks people, then you definitely could, and solely as that kind of film, Bad Milo surpasses the average. When I consider the depths explored while Milo, who clearly shares a dentist with the Zuni doll from Trilogy of Terror, goes on his rampage that elevates this film into being a contender for top film of 2013. It also didn't surprise me that this slice of genre weirdness with a deeper level was produced by the Duplass Brothers who in 2008 directed Baghead, one of the finer and deeper deconstructions of the slasher genre. Mark Duplass (best known as Pete on FX's The League) also co-starred in my favorite film of last year, Safety Not Guaranteed, another film that exploited a genre trope, in this case time travel, to explore broader themes.

While it's all well and good to write and want to bring to the screen the best movie ever made about the waspy bottling of emotions and a monster that lives in an anus, Bad Milo needed a perfect cast to make it happen, and they got it. Ken Marino, a veteran of The State sketch comedy group, was the perfect choice for the lead role. Like a more comedic version of Nathan Fillion, Marino has the ability to reflect his inner emotions though his eyes very well, and that's just what the character of Ken needed. Patrick Warburton, who I never liked on Seinfeld but always have liked since then, should be every jerky boss in every movie, and I always contend that every movie needs one of two things, Stephen Root or Rip Torn. In this case, Root nails the part of the pot smoking, absentee Dad, and he would have perhaps Aiken the prize for the funniest performance if it wasn't for Kumail Nunjiani. That guy is in his way to being a star. If you don't already know Kumail from the TNT show Franklin & Bash, the horror comedy Hell Baby, or his stand up, then get to know him now because I feel sure that soon he will be everywhere. Sadly, Community's Gillian Jacobs is underused and rarely seen as Ken's wife whose ready to have kids, and I think Toby Huss was pretty weak as the hypnotherapist. I would have liked to see someone with a little more flair in that particular role.

Bad Milo is a film that hits close to home. You could even say it got me right in the guts. While I blame most of my stomach woes on the delicious fluid that is the issue of cows, I know I also have the propensity to bottle up emotions which ultimately express themselves through my ass. Over the years, while I've found this method to be somewhat simpler and filled with less confrontation (excepting with a number of toilets), I've also come to accept that vocally expressing one's emotional dissonance is healthier than feeling like you ate too much musical fruit. While I probably wouldn't have developed a monster so ugly that it was cute (Seriously, I need a stuffed animal version of Milo.) in my intestines, keeping on the same course may have ulcerated my bowels to a point where it could have been life threatening to myself. Like Ken in Bad Milo, I had to both accept that it was part of me and learn how to control it. Over the years, horror films have dissected larger themes such as racism, war, politics, and religion through representational or symbolic means, but I never would have thought a mundane subject such as a poor digestive system could be turned into such am amazingly funny and pointed horror feature. It just goes to show that, in the right hands, a movie can still be about shit and still be the shit.

Bugg Rating

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