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The Independent Critic

Jamie Kennedy, Sally Kirkland, Sara Malakul Lane
Jared Cohn
96 Mins.
Uncork'd Entertainment

 "Buddy Hutchins" Coming Out in March With Uncork'd Entertainment 

It's nearly impossible to even read the description of writer/director Jared Cohn's Buddy Hutchins without thinking about Falling Down, a long underrated flick that never quite got the glory it deserved even with Michael Douglas's acclaimed performance. While it's highly doubtful that Jamie Kennedy, ordinarily known for his comical roles, will receive anywhere near that kind of acclaim, Buddy Hutchins treads a lot of the same territory until Cohn takes it an entirely different direction in the film's final 30 minutes or so.

Buddy Hutchins (Kennedy) is almost a year into his sobriety and trying to support his wife and two kids. As it turns out, the only real reward for all of this is a failing business and a cheating wife. Throw in a ruthless bounty hunter and a hot-tempered ex, and Buddy's already short fuse is about to blow. Pushed over the edge and armed with a chainsaw, Buddy goes out for blood.

The first thing you're going to have to do when approaching the film, of course, is to let go of the notion that there's going to be a punchline to the film just because it features Jamie Kennedy. Buddy Hutchins is a thriller pure and simple and it's an almost relentlessly sober (pun intended) affair (double pun intended). While the film's ending is its calling card, it also feels a tad unnecessary given everything that has happened before it. That said, I must admit that given how morose much of the film is it was kind of a relief to have quite the spark in the film's final thirty minutes.

If there's a problem with the film, and there is or I wouldn't be bringing up the subject, it's that Cohn tries to accomplish quite a bit with it and much of the film ends up feeling incohesive. While this, at least for me, mutes my enjoyment of the film, I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that I did, for some odd reason, actually enjoy these characters. While Kennedy has never been one of my favorites, he adds an earthy sadness to Hutchins that is infinitely watchable even when it's incredibly sad. Steve Hanks also shines as Buddy's brother Troy, and Milana Lev, as Buddy's daughter Molly, gives the film a good amount of its emotional depth and sincerity.

Adam Sandler is a terrific example of an actor who has been used incredibly well at times in quite dramatic roles, such as Punch Drunk Love and Reign Over Me, and it's easy to understand why Cohn opted for such an approach with a character such as Buddy Hutchins, a character that could have so easily been a caricature but is not in the hands of an actor who seems to understand the depth beneath the surface. As an important side note, former Oscar nominee Sally Kirkland also makes a nice appearance in the film as Bertha.

Picked up by Uncork'd Entertainment for a March release, Buddy Hutchins really never quite came together but fans of Kennedy and fans of this type of drama will certainly find things to appreciate.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic