Review: ‘Boy Kills World,’ starring Bill Skarsgård

April 21, 2024

by Carla Hay

Bill Skarsgård in “Boy Kills World” (Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions)

“Boy Kills World”

Directed by Moritz Mohr

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed dystopian society, the action film “Boy Kills World” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with some black people and Asian) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A deaf and mute man, who was raised as an orphan and trained to be a warrior by a shaman, goes on a revenge mission against the tyrannical dictator whom he blames for killing his family. 

Culture Audience: “Boy Kills World” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of videogame-styled action movies that have some offbeat comedy and don’t take themselves too seriously.

Famke Janssen in “Boy Kills World” (Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions)

“Boy Kills World” is a cartoonishly violent revenge flick with touches of psychedelia and self-deprecating comedy in a dystopian society. The story drags with repetition in the middle of the movie, but a plot twist makes up for this occasional banality. This plot twist is not as predictable as another plot twist that happens around the same time.

Directed by Moritz Mohr, “Boy Kills World” was written by Tyler Burton Smith and Arend Remmers. “Boy Kills World” had its world premiere at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival. The movie is based on director Mohr’s unreleased short film “Boy Kills World,” which has a similar concept.

In the feature-length “Boy Kills World,” which takes place in an unnamed dystopian society, a young man whose name is listed in the credits Boy (played by Bill Skarsgård) goes on a revenge mission against a tyrannical dictator named Beatrice Van Der Koy (played by Famke Janssen), whom he blames for murdering his mother (played by Rolanda Marais), his father (played by Ashley Dowds) and Boy’s younger sister Mina (played by Quinn Copeland) when Boy was about 13 or 14 years old and when Mina was about 9 or 10 years old. The teenage Boy is played by twins Cameron Crovetti and Nicholas Crovetti. Beatrice is the leader of the Van Der Koy family, who have several members who also abuse their positions of power to intimidate and kill people.

Every year, this bleak society has a mass murder event called the Culling, where Beatrice orders the military to go after enemies and kill innocent people on live TV. Boy’s family got caught in the Culling crossfire. Flashbacks show that he witnessed his mother’s murder. Boy was able to escape but became deaf and mute from the attack. He was rescued and taken to a remote wooded area by a mystic whose name is listed in the credits as Shaman (played by Yayan Ruhian), who raised him in isolation and trained Boy to become a warrior skilled in martial arts.

Boy does not talk out loud in the movie, so his inner thoughts are heard with the voice that he says was the voice of his favorite video game character. (H. Jon Benjamin does Boy’s voice in the movie.) Talent Digital Art has a free-to-play 2.5D fighting video game titled “Super Dragon Punch Force 3,” which is described in a press release as a “real world sequel inspired by the fictitious 2D fighting game franchise” depicted in “Boy Kills World.”) Even in the flashback scenes where Boy is literally a boy, his voiceover is that of an adult man.

Boy’s inner thoughts show that he can be self-deprecating and frequently sarcastic. Boy says of the city that he left behind when he was rescued by Shaman: “This was never a great city. Hilda Vander Koy took it from us. She has a list of all of her enemies. If you’re on it, she’ll find you.” Boy adds, “Hilda took everything from me. And when I become the ultimate warrior, I’ll return the favor.”

Several scenes in “Boy Kills World” show that part of Shaman’s training includes blowing smoke from a hallucinogenic substance into Boy’s face. As a result, Boy often has psychedelic hallucinations. Boy says early on in the movie that there’s a state of being between reality and dreams. The visual effects for the psychedelia are among the more memorable aspects about this sensory overload film.

Boy frequently has visions of Mina appearing to him and talking to him and looking the same way since the last time he saw her. Boy and Mina had a very close and fun-loving relationship before their lives were torn apart. Even in his life as a vengeful warrior, Boy still gets teased and playful scolding from Mina, whom he sees as the only person in his life who truly made him happy.

During his vendetta quest, Boy encounters other members of the Van Der Koy family, including Hilda’s ruthless sister Melanie Van Der Koy (played by Michelle Dockery); Hilda’s arrogant brother Gideon Van Der Koy (played by Brett Gelman); and Melanie’s buffoonish husband Glen Van Der Koy (played Sharlto Copley), who is dominated by Melanie. (It says a lot that Glen took the Van Der Koy surname.)

The Van Der Koy family has a security chief named June27 (played by Jessica Rothe), and programmed assassin who wears a helmet and who might or might not be human. She has almost superhuman-like strength and becomes a formidable and elusive opponent to Boy. Meanwhile, Boy forms an alliance with two rebels: wisecracking Basho (played by Andrew Koji) and resourceful Bennie (played by Isaiah Mustafa), who both join in on the mayhem. Boy encounters many dangerous foes, leading to several brutal and bloody battles.

Skarsgård is quite skillful in combining the action and facial expressions required for this character who is supposed to be deaf and mute. Melanie the villain who is the most fun to watch in the movie, thanks to Dockery’s prickly performance. Janssen’s Hilda is a fairly generic and predictable villain, while Gideon and his bad jokes quickly become annoying.

“Boy Kills World” is by no means an intellectual movie, but some of the quips are amusing enough to keep most viewers entertained. One of the movie’s plot twists is very predictable, while other plot twists are not as easy to predict. The movie’s most surprising “reveal” has some imagination, which saves “Boy Kills World” from being just another violent action flick that’s a checklist of death and destruction.

Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate will release “Boy Kills World” in U.S. cinemas on April 26, 2024. The movie will be released on digital and VOD on May 28, 2024.

Review: ‘The Bob’s Burgers Movie,’ starring the voices of Eugene Mirman, John Roberts, Kristen Schaal, Dan Mintz, H. Jon Benjamin, Kevin Kline and Zach Galifianakis

May 23, 2022

by Carla Hay

Linda Belcher (voiced by John Roberts), Louise Belcher (voiced by Kristen Schaal), Gene Belcher (voiced by Eugene Mirman), Tina Belcher (voiced by Dan Mintz) and Bob Belcher (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) in “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” (Image courtesy of 20th Century Studios)

“The Bob’s Burgers Movie”

Directed by Loren Bouchard and Bernard Derriman

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed beach city in a U.S. state that resembles New Jersey, the animated film “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few African Americans) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: The working-class Belcher family, which owns a fast-food restaurant called Bob’s Burgers, becomes involved in a murder mystery in the midst of having financial problems over a bank loan.

Culture Audience: Besides appealing to the obvious target audience of fans of “The Bob’s Burgers” TV series, “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” will appeal primarily to people interested in zany animated films that have comedy, drama and musical numbers that can be enjoyed by people of various generations.

A scene from “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” (Image courtesy of 20th Century Studios)

Whenever there’s a movie based on a long-running TV series, one of the biggest mistakes that can happen is when the filmmakers make the movie confusing to viewers who’ve never seen the TV series. Fortunately, “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” (which is based on the animated TV series “Bob’s Burgers”) does not fall into that trap. In fact, the movie is a great example of how to please existing fans, as well as how to win over newcomers to a franchise.

“Bob’s Burgers” (which premiered in 2011 and is televised in the U.S. on Fox) tells the ongoing story of the Belcher clan, a family of five whose patriarch owns and operate a small fast-food restaurant called Bob’s Burgers in an unnamed beach city in an unnamed U.S. state. (The show has dropped hints over the years that the state is probably New Jersey.) “Bob’s Burgers” creator showrunner Loren Bouchard wrote the screenplay for “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” which Bouchard co-directed with Bernard Derriman.

Here are the five people in the Belcher family:

  • Bob Belcher (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin), the pessimistic Bob’s Burgers owner, who’s always worrying that the restaurant is on the brink of failing.
  • Linda Belcher (voiced by John Roberts), Bob’s eternally optimistic wife, helps manage Bob’s Burgers. Linda and Bob are both 44 years old.
  • Tina Belcher (voiced by Dan Mintz), Bob and Linda’s “boy crazy” eldest child, who’s 13 years old. Tina has a crush on a fellow teenager named Jimmy Pesto Jr. (also voiced by Benjamin), who is the son of the man who owns Jimmy Pesto’s Pizza, the biggest competitor to Bob’s Burgers.
  • Gene Belcher (voiced by Eugene Mirman), Bob and Linda’s mild-mannered middle child, who is 11 years old. Gene, who is a keyboardist, is preoccupied with his fledgling pop/rock band The Itty Bitty Ditty Committee.
  • Louise Belcher (voiced by Kristen Schaal), Bob and Linda’s feisty youngest child, who is 9 years old. Louise is fond of wearing a pink rabbit-ears hat, and she dislikes being perceived as a weak and cowardly kid.

“The Bob’s Burgers Movie” keeps things simple by not having too many of the characters that are in the “Bob’s Burgers” TV series take up a lot of screen time. (The character of Jimmy Pesto Sr. is not in the movie, because voice actor Jay Johnston has reportedly been dropped from the “Bob’s Burgers” franchise.) “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” could be a stand-alone story, with people never having to see the TV series to understand the movie. It’s a wise choice in the movie’s narrative, considering that many people seeing the “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” haven’t see any episodes of the TV series.

The essential plot of “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” intertwines two major problems experienced by the Belcher family: a bank loan deadline and a murder mystery. In the beginning of the movie, Bob’s Burgers is struggling to stay in business. Bob and Linda are denied an extension on a bank loan, which needs to be paid back in seven days. The day that Bob and Linda get this bad news, the street where Bob’s Burgers is located has a water main break because of old and leaky pipes underground. The breaking of the water main causes a massive sinkhole, right in front of the Bob’s Burgers entrance.

Bob’s Burgers temporarily uses a side door as its entrance and puts a sign out front saying that the restaurant is still open. But the damage to the business is devastating, since Bob’s Burgers gets no customers the day after the sinkhole has appeared. Bob starts to panic over how he’s going to pay back the loan, while Linda firmly believes that everything will eventually work out for the best. Linda thinks that all they have to do is make enough sales to get the money to pay back the loan.

Meanwhile, Louise (who is a student at Wagstaff School) is being harassed by a student bully named Chloe Barbash (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz), who makes fun of Louise, by calling her a “baby” for wearing a rabbit-ears hat. (The hat’s origin story is revealed in this movie.) This taunting then triggers Louise into attempting to prove to the other Wagstaff School students that Louise is no “baby” and that she’s braver than most children. Louise comes up with the idea to explore the sinkhole, and she enlists her siblings Gene and Tina to videorecord this expedition.

To the Belcher kids’ shock, Louise finds a skeleton of a man in the sinkhole. The police are called, and the sinkhole becomes a crime scene. A medical examination reveals that the man was murdered by being shot. The identity of the murdered man is revealed to be a local carnival worker named Danny D’Angelo, also known as Cotton Candy Dan. It’s also revealed that the murder took place six years ago. (The movie’s opening scene has a big hint that is connected to the murder.)

Calvin Fischoeder (voiced by Kevin Kline), the wealthy and pompous landlord for Bob’s Burgers, becomes the prime suspect in the murder, so he’s arrested. Also affected by this arrest are Calvin’s neurotic younger brother Felix Fischoeder (voiced by Zach Galifianakis) and Calvin’s talkative lawyer cousin Grover Fischoeder (voiced by David Wain), who is Calvin’s defense attorney. Bob fears that if Calvin is sent to prison for murder, Bob’s Burgers will lose its lease.

And so, there’s a “race against time” for the case to be solved, with the Belcher kids doing their own private investigation. A cranky cop named Sergeant Bosco (voiced by Gary Cole), who is a regular on the “Bob’s Burgers” TV series, is leading the police investigation. And, not surprisingly, he’s annoyed by anyone he thinks will be interfering in the case. Just like in the TV series, Sergeant Bosco can be a friend or a foe to the Belcher family in “The Bob’s Burgers Movie.”

Meanwhile, with the bank loan deadline approaching, Bob becoming increasingly desperate. And so, loyal Bob’s Burgers customer Teddy (voiced by Larry Murphy), who works as a contractor handyman and is Bob’s closest friend, comes up with the idea for Bob’s Burgers to set up a temporary food cart on the city’s beach boardwalk—even though Bob doesn’t have a permit to sell food on the boardwalk. Desperate times lead to desperate decisions, so they decide to take a chance and operate the food cart on the boardwalk anyway.

Teddy, who is a lonely and divorced bachelor, volunteers to be help operate the food cart by being the cook. Linda dresses up as a hamburger to entice customers. The movie has some amusing moments where Linda thinks that her selling skills are based on how sexy she thinks she looks in this ridiculous-looking burger costume. Bob predictably gets annoyed by Linda’s antics, and he becomes paranoid about getting busted for operating the food cart without a license.

“The Bob’s Burgers Movie” also has recurring comedic moments about each of the Belcher kids’ current obsessions. Tina has fantasies about asking Jimmy Jr. to be her boyfriend for the summer, so there are dreamlike romantic scenarios that play out in Tina’s imagination. Gene dreams of becoming a rock star, so there are musical numbers in the movie with The Itty Bitty Ditty Committee performing the music. Louise imagines herself as a popular kid with a “badass” reputation among her schoolmates, so there are scenes of Louise doing whatever she thinks it will take to have this courageous and heroic image.

“The Bob’s Burgers Movie” isn’t a mindless kiddie film, because it has plenty of jokes that adults will appreciate more than underage children will. These jokes have to do with social class and status issues that are presented in the story. Observant viewers will notice that all the grief that Louise goes through to change her image isn’t much different than all the trouble that adults go through to project a certain image, so that they can be considered “successful” by society.

The musical numbers in “The Bob’s Burger Movie” are very entertaining and amusing, particularly the performances of “Sunny Side Up Summer” and “Not That Evil.” Fortunately, this isn’t a movie where people break out into song every 10 minutes, because it would ruin the flow of the narrative. The mystery-solving part of the story gets a little convoluted and messy, but not too complicated.

“The Bob’s Burger Movie” continues the gender-swapping choices made in the “Bob’s Burgers” TV series casting, with men voicing some of the female characters, and women voicing some of the male characters. Benjamin (the voice of Bob) also voices the character of Ms. LaBonz, one of Louise’s teachers at Wagstaff School, while Roberts (the voice of Linda) is the also the voice of Jocelyn, one of Louise’s Wagstaff School classmates. As previously mentioned, Mintz is the voice of Tina.

There are also some celebrity cameos in gender-swapped roles. Jordan Peele continues as the voice of Fanny, Calvin’s much-younger singer girlfriend, who has a checkered past and a gold-digging agenda. Sarah Silverman and Laura Silverman are, respectively, the voices of Ollie and Andy, who are Jimmy Pesto Sr.’s twin sons.

In response to criticism that the “Bob’s Burgers” TV series cast white actors to voice African American characters, “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” has added some racial diversity to the cast. Nicole Byer (host of Netflix’s cooking competition “Nailed It!”) is the voice of Olsen Benner, an African American TV reporter, who has been voiced by Pamela Adlon in the “Bob’s Burger” TV series. Ashley Nicole Black (a writer for “Ted Lasso”) is now the voice of Harley, an African American girl who’s a classmate of Louise’s at Wagstaff School. Katie Crown was previously the voice of Harley.

Even with a lot of side characters, “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” remains focused on the Belcher family. The Belcher kids get a lot of screen time with the murder investigation, which is a more interesting and funnier part of the movie than the part of the movie about Bob, Linda and Teddy selling burgers on the boardwalk. And out of all the Belcher children, Louise is the one with the standout character arc. There’s not a bad actor in this entire cast.

“The Bob’s Burgers Movie” has wide appeal, but it’s not a movie that some people might enjoy if they’re looking for more dazzling visuals in an animated film. However, for viewers who care more about animated movies that have characters with memorable personalities, some snarky jokes, and an engaging story that’s easy to follow, then “The Bob Burgers Movie” delivers this type of entertainment in a lighthearted and playful way.

20th Century Studios will release “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” in U.S. cinemas on May 27, 2022.

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