I recently made a statement in our latest podcast that Zach Galifianakis is quickly becoming one of the most over rated actors in Hollywood as of late. For some reason every frat boy in the world has grabbed on to every catch phrase he spouted in The Hangover and made him their new drunken god. It’s really kind of sad because Zach Galifianakis is probably getting type cast into being the one note butt of jokes and never really going to be given a serious chance.
However it is important to remember that long before every college kid discovered The Hangover, Galifianakis has been working in Hollywood for quite some time. To me, he has always been the guy from Out Cold and the guy who has a supporting part in the haunted submarine movie, Below. Neither of these parts blew me away, but they are part of Galifianakis’s over looked movie repertoire. Another one of those films in that over looked Galifianakis category is a 2008 film called Visioneers which is available streaming on your favorite Internet streaming service and on Hulu. The point is, you can find Visioneers for free with ease if you look for it but I’m still a bit unsure as to if it is something I would suggest you seek out.
Visioneers is the story of George Washington Winsterhammerman (Galifinakis) who works for the Jeffers corporation in what seems to be the near future. Things have rapidly changed though in the world and people no longer are able to release stress. In fact people have begun exploding randomly once their stress level is reached its peak. They also have this strange way of greeting each other which involves extending their middle finger and saying “Jeffersmorning to you!” but that is neither here nor there. George is trying his best to live his existence without exploding like every one else in this bizarre world. Everyone seems to have a theory as to why people are exploding and how to control it with the Jeffers Corporation leading the fight. With people literally exploding around him, George continues to try and live a normal life until his first symptoms begin to appear.
Somewhere hidden in Visioneers is a fun movie, but I’m just not sure what angle to approach this film from. The concept is absurd and little is done to explain any of it. The film drones on with a somewhat pretentious indie feel to it that makes you want to think there is something bigger really going on here. I think it’s trying to make some sort of statement on how we as humans are too stressed over everything and in turn try to strip ourselves of caring about anything. Ultimately we end up with a lack of feeling and emotion- a lack of hopes and dreams which will kill us all in the end. The problem is, Visioneers only slightly succeeds in bringing this idea to light. I haven’t been more zoned out in a movie since I [heart] Huckabees. The film was trying to achieve something that no one quite understood, and in the end just turned out to be a very quirky, dark comedy with little relevance. I use the word comedy loosely here as there are not a ton of belly laughs but some very strange situations that will make you chuckle.
Zach Galifianakis really tries to take this role as seriously as he can and in some regard succeeds. He plays the role fairly straight and isn’t looking for the quick laugh and dumb punchline. In fact, in many ways this isn’t the Zach Galifianakis that everyone knows and loves but a more toned down, experimental comic trying something different. Still despite all that, I never felt that he was totally comfortable in the role. His character delivers very few lines in a very monotone voice that is questioning in nature and submitting to authority at the same time. As he stumbles through life like a fish out of water I never really felt connected to him or the fate of his character.
Perhaps the big lesson learned from Visioneers is that humans get too tied up in trying to control our emotions and in doing so it pushes our stresses to the tipping point. Everyone seems to have the idea that will make your life better and more in balance. It could be a life coach, a massage, a teddy bear or a spinning solar system hat that makes you feel at one with the stars but at the end of the day it’s all a wash as to what works. Sadly enough Visioneers is kind of the same sort of wash. Areas of the film worked for me and others did not. I chuckled a bit and I stared blankly at the screen during others. I’m sure one of our former writers, Michael, would have loved this film. It’s right up his alley and is filled full of the philosophical questions that film’s like I [Heart] Huckabees and others have done in the past. At the end of the day Visioneers has an interesting concept but is executed in a way that isn’t exactly for the masses.