I was pretty much on-board with what Postal had to offer as soon as its first scene hit the screen. In this scene, two terrorists have hijacked a plane and are planning to fly it into a building. The assumption is that this is 9/11, although the film never actually says that. We join the two terrorists in the cockpit, and get to listen to them discussing how many virgins they’ll get after the job’s done. One was told 100, the other 99. So they call their boss, have a debate about how many virgins suicide would be worth, and then the scene ends in a surprising way. I was laughing the whole way through.
Consistent laughter because of genuine hilarity didn’t continue for Postal‘s entire running time, but I was laughing either because it was actually trying to be funny or because it was so bad that I couldn’t help but laugh. This is a “satire” of the most lowbrow variety. The targets are everyone, the wit is basically nonexistent, but there are a few moments of real laughter, and the whole production takes itself so lightly that it’s kind of hard to hate it too much, especially as, if nothing else, it’s very entertaining.
The film stars Zack Ward as “Postal Dude,” someone living in the small town of Paradise, Arizona, who hates every facet of his life. His wife doesn’t leave the trailer and has gained several hundred pounds since the wedding, he just got laid off and now has to find a new job, and he basically has nothing going for him. What’s the plan? Team up with Uncle Dave (Dave Foley), the leader of a hippie doomsday cult, steal a bunch of “Krotchy” dolls (yes, they look exactly like you’d think) which are in such high demand that they sell at auction for $4,000, and get out of Dodge.
For the first part of Postal, before this idea even enters into anyone’s head, we get a lot of social and political commentary, which only the most unobservant viewers will miss. This is the type of film that isn’t trying to veil its viewpoints, and it isn’t afraid to take its shots at anyone and everyone. Some of it is done in jest, some of it is probably quite serious — although good luck figuring out which is which — and it’s all relatively funny.
Here’s an example. The film features Al-Qaeda in a fairly prominent role. In Postal, the group is depicted not dissimilarly from most Americans. They all speak English very well — Osama bin Laden has an American accent, even — they’re often seen playing pool or watching Oprah, and their hearts don’t seem to be in the whole “terrorist” thing. One more thing: bin Laden and George W. Bush speak a few times during the film, on the telephone, because why not?
Are you curious, at least a little? I know I’d be. I almost want to watch Postal again just to make sure I didn’t hallucinate most of the film. Some of the ideas are just so absurd that I almost can’t believe they were put in an actual movie. How real actors and real producers all signed up and were okay with this being made into a movie is beyond me. J.K. Simmons is in this movie for a few scenes. And I know he’ll appear in almost anything, but seeing him made me do a double take.
Is Postal in bad taste? Is making fun of subjects like terrorism purely for the sake of shock and laughs really worth it? Some people might be too offended to sit through the entirety of Postal. Then again, the film is based on the video game franchise of the same name, and it wasn’t exactly shy of its own controversy — particularly Postal 2. In that regard, doesn’t this make Postal the most true-to-series video game adaptation from director Uwe Boll?
In fact, Boll’s own suspect history with video game adaptations — he of Alone in the Dark, BloodRayne, House of the Dead and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale fame — is one of the gags in this film, which has him appear as himself and more or less directly address the audience about how he makes movies … before being jumped by Postal creator Vince Desiderio for ruining the spirit of the game. I apologize for ruining that scene, but it’s something that you just have to see in order to believe that it’s really happening.
There are a bunch of side characters in the film, too, and most of them get more laughs than the main plot. A racist and corrupt cop (Chris Spencer), a panhandler (Michael Paré), Al-Qaeda, the doomsday cult’s second in command (Chris Copppola), and Verne Troyer get a great deal of chuckles. The film might be as subtle as a bowling ball to the kneecap — which hurts a lot, by the way — but it doesn’t exactly struggle to bring out laughter, assuming you’re not too offended by what you’re watching.
Is Postal a good movie? I suppose that will depend on what you mean by that. It accomplishes all of its goals by getting its point across and making its audience laugh while doing so. It’s not politically correct, and it’s not for anyone easily offended by people who make fun of issues which might be best to not be made fun of, but I laughed all the way through. Shoddy productions can be worth seeing if they have enough ambition, and Uwe Boll’s Postal is worth seeing.