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Monday, March 25, 2013

HANK AND MIKE -- movie review by porfle



(This review originally appeared online at Bumscorner.com in 2008.)

Mike's a cheerful, fastidious, gentle soul who's too shy to tell the girl he works with that he's secretly in love with her.  Hank's a skirt-chasing slob who's usually drunk, stoned, and puffing cigarettes by the carton.  Besides sharing an apartment, these two guys have absolutely nothing in common.  Except for one thing.  They're both Easter bunnies.

HANK AND MIKE (2008) begins with the title characters on their Easter rounds, breaking into the houses on their route and leaving chocolate eggs for the kiddies.  But irresponsible Hank misses a house, which results in a devastated little girl and a nationwide scandal that's splashed all over the TV news.  And since Easter Enterprises is in the midst of a downsizing process spearheaded by sleazy head-office bean counter Conrad Hubriss (Chris Klein), both bunnies are fired even though Mike is a former winner of the Golden Egg award for excellence.  Out of a job, Hank and Mike must now struggle to fit into a workforce that has little use for two washed-up Easter bunnies.

Hank:  "Easter just used us...and spit us out.  Easter was our pimp."
Mike:  (with sudden awareness) "We were Easter bitches."

These bunnies take their job seriously.  They may be just a bunch of regular slobs in bunny costumes (which they never take off), but their interactions are every bit as tense and aggressively competitive as the fighter pilots in TOP GUN.  Mike still wears a leg brace from the knee injury he suffered while delivering eggs in Bosnia.  Hank is a world-weary stoner who unwinds in a local strip club with his usual, a steak and a face-dance.  Their hostile encounters with a thick, steroid-pumped Russian bunny skirt the dangerous edges of violence. 

I'll just come right out and say that I love this movie.  The whole thing is played almost documentary-style straight, with an endless parade of unexpectedly outlandish gags and painfully deadpan situations.  It's delightfully unsentimental, too--after being fired, a sullen Hank casually flicks his cigarette butt into a passing baby carriage and later dream-fantasizes about visiting the little girl who blew the whistle on them as she sleeps and leaving an exploding egg that blows her to bloody, blazing bits, laughing maniacally over the flames.  And remember, these are guys in Easter bunny costumes.  It's the sight gag that just keeps on giving.

Their visits to the employment office and subsequent attempts to find work result in a series of gags that had me in stitches.  "I'm a semi-professional breakdancer," Hank tells the almost catatonic interview, Miss Schytt.  "I've got my own cardboard."  In one scene, they find themselves skinning rabbits for a psycho butcher who loves his work too much, and what they do to him before walking out is priceless.  In another, they're UPS men, but can't resist hiding the packages they deliver.  And then they end up working in an elementary school, where janitor Hank regales the fascinated kids with horrid Easter war stories while cafeteria chef Mike cooks up chocolate hamburgers, chocolate dogs, chocolate tacos with chocolate sauce, and for dessert, chocolate, all of which becomes ammunition in a colossal food fight with the kids which gets the two ousted again. 

Assorted bits of bizarreness abound in this dementedly original screenplay by Thomas Michael (Hank) and Paolo Mancini (Mike).  Their weird neighbor Leon shows up at the door in his underwear, desperately trying to sell them his waffle iron.  A bum sitting next to Mike on a park bench talks lovingly to his best friend, a watermelon with a happy face painted on it.  Chris Klein's Conrad Hubriss, a role he was born to play, gets plastered at the strip club and winds up onstage belting out a tortured, ungodly love song like a crazed Bryan Ferry ("Love is like an interstate...it gets you from place to place...but it's littered with dead raccoons..."), as a full band and backup singers swell gloriously in support. 

Finally, fed up with the injustice of it all, Hank and Mike dress in gangster suits and march in RESERVOIR DOGS-style slow-motion toward the Easter Enterprises building to a driving rock beat (the original song score for this movie is really cool), headed for a final showdown with Hubriss and the rest of the executive board that will end in comedic death. 

I know, I'm just reeling off a list of things that happen in HANK AND MIKE, but that's the best way I can think of to review it.  If it sounds funny to you, then you'll probably get just as much of a kick out of it as I did.  If not, then you may want to skip it.  As for me, I think Ted Turner should start showing this for 24 hours straight every Easter.

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