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The Independent Critic

Jacob Demonte-Finn, Ashley Holliday Tavares, Christina Laskay, Anthony Rutowicz, Clare Grant, Azure Parsons, Lindsey Haun, Nick Roth, Toby Bryan, Seth Green
Lindsey Haun, Nick Roth
Nick Roth
86 Mins.
Deskpop Entertainment

 Movie Review: Hanky Panky 
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If you've been reading my reviews for any length of time, then you already know that I fancy myself a devotee of Happy Madison films. 

Yes, even the bad ones. 

I mean, seriously. There are no exceptions. Okay, maybe a couple exceptions. 

It's not so much that I consider them great cinema. It's that Adam Sandler has surrounded himself with friends, family, and family of choice to create one weird ass cinematic universe that I completely adore even when it completely sucks. 

I thought of Happy Madison often while watching the low-budget weirdness that is Hanky Panky. Co-directed by the husband-and-wife team of Lindsey Haun (Village of the Damned, Shrooms) and Nick Roth, Hanky Panky resembles a Happy Madison film not because of style or substance but because the entire 86-minute film often feels like it's a gathering of a group of friends who find each other hilarious. 

It helps that the friends in question are also quite talented. 

Okay, so Hanky Panky is an unusual beast of a film. Pop culture references abound in this story centered around Sam (Jacob DeMonte-Finn), a weirdo from the get go whose obsession with cleaning up messes is amplified by the presence of his "friend," a hanky named Woody (voiced by Toby Bryan) whose behavior is so outrageous he kind of feels like an outcast from a certain misguided Melissa McCarthy film. 

In other words, he's a hoot.

Sam has been inadvertently invited to a gathering at the cabin home of Rebecca (Haun) and her brother Norm (also Toby Bryan) with friends to include the disagreeably married couple Carla (Christina Laskay) and Cliff (Anthony Rutowicz), Cliff's brother Dr. Crane (Roth) and his wife Lilith (Azure Parsons), Carla's BFF Diane (Ashley Holliday Tavares), and a weird neighbor who keeps showing up, Kelly (Clare Grant). 

None are particularly happy when they realize that Sam has joined the gathering and that unhappiness sets off what will likely be one of the more unique comedy experiences you'll see in 2024. In addition to a wealth of television and movie Easter eggs (please tell me you've seen a couple of them already), Hanky Panky is nearly 90 minutes of cults, murder, alients, hagiography, and a murder mystery so zany you can't help but think of that classic whodunnit Clue. 

Headed for a streaming release on 4/20, and yeah there's a reason, this Deskpop Entertainment release may not be for everyone but those who enjoy it will absolutely have a blast with it. 

This film, with a Christmas theme also tossed in, is an absolutely blast to watch even when it doesn't really make a lick of sense. Written by Roth, Hanky Panky amplifies the wonder of a talented ensemble and manages to become a film that is bawdy, naughty, and yet surprisingly sincere in moments. In addition to our wacky hanky, there's an even more troublesome top hat (voiced by Seth Green) that is completely inspired in that low-budget indie sort of way. 

The entire cast here is mighty fine and everyone has moments to really shine. DeMonte-Finn is a comic wonder and yet this entire ensemble plays off each other in a way that feels like improvisation run amok. 

Music by Jimmy Haun fits perfectly within the film's comic framework and Lindsey Haun's own production design for the film is impeccable. As a fun note, the film was actually shot at a Utah cabin owned by Haun's own father during the most intense blizzard ever recorded in the area. 

I guess Mother Nature wanted in on the zaniness. Or maybe it was Harry the Hat. 

Regardless, Hanky Panky arrives on 4/20 and will be available on Apple, Google, and Amazon's Prime Video right out of the gate. If you're looking for an outrageous comedy with a stoner sensibility and one seriously panky-tinged hanky, Hanky Panky is one to not miss. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic