Review: RON GOOSSENS: LOW-BUDGET STUNTMAN Hits Its Mark
The new comedy by the guys who made NEW KIDS TURBO is rude, shocking, irreverent and fun in all the right places.
Their films are also very well made, technically accomplished, and funny as hell.
New Kids Turbo was their feature debut, and it had all of these things. It surprised me by how... well... how GOOD it was. And since then, Steffen and Flip have only grown, venturing out into adding some honest drama into the crazy antics.
By now, I'm no longer blind-sided by their expertise. I'm more-or-less expecting it, and each film they make can count on me buying a ticket for it.
Which is a bit of a dangerous mindset to watch a movie with of course, and indeed, with their fourth film Ron Goossens: Low-Budget Stuntman I can almost suffice with saying "Well... it's their fourth film". You get the same mixture as in the previous three films, and while I can't accuse Steffen and Flip of complacency (the tightrope-act they perform is too damn difficult for that), you do get the impression that they've found their niche and stick with it.
Like Bro's Before Ho's before it, this one is a bit more story-driven than the New Kids films. Tim Haars (brother of Steffen) plays Ron Goossens, a (drunk) unemployed loser who becomes a worldwide sensation when a (drunk) bet to jump over a canal with his car goes spectacularly wrong. A clip of the crash ends up on You-Tube, goes viral, and suddenly (drunk) Ron is the most famous man of Zundert.
Ron isn't happy though. His wife is sexually bored with him, and is bedding his entire circle of friends and enemies. She has given Ron one last chance to win her back: if he can manage to fuck model-turned-actress Bo Maerten, he will have proven himself interesting enough to keep.
It's a veritable mission impossible, but Ron has one ace up his sleeve: the Dutch movie industry can't afford professional stuntmen. So with his online celebrity status as a survivor-of-crashes, Ron starts selling himself as a (drunk) low-budget stuntman on each film starring the beautiful Bo, to badger her into sleeping with him.
It's a scenario which allows for a lot of mayhem, as Ron crashes many film-sets literally and figuratively. And that's a good thing too, as Ron, and especially DRUNK Ron, is a hard character to root for. More than ever before, a Steffen-and-Flip film rests on the shoulders of a single character, and it's one who is so unlikable that at the halfway point of the film you just hope he'll die already. Instead of a lovable lug we get a drunk moron who is teaching himself stalker skills.
What fun is in the first half consists of Ron perpetually breaking stuff, and an endless, hilarious send-up of the Dutch film industry, with a slew of famous actors, directors and other celebrities playing toxic caricatures of themselves. I'm not kidding: especially Bo Maerten, Waldemar Torenstra and German "schlager"-singer Denny Christiaan deserve some sort of medal for self-deprecation here.
The films-within-the-film are also brilliant, and feature subjects which are national taboos or traumas, from pedophile scandals to terrorist attacks. A mild example: anyone who has been following the discussion surrounding the Dutch tradition of "Black Piet" (Sinterklaas' mythical helper who is often played during St. Nicholas festivities by white actors in blackface) can appreciate Ron having to do stunts for a film called "Twelve Years a Piet".
Things do turn around in the second half when Ron starts to gain a tiny smidgen of self-respect and starts fighting with his ghosts. It's a development which may not be unexpected, but is handled well enough to finally make you care a bit about Ron's achievements (or lack of them). Instead of being a false note of hypocritical morality, this actually strengthens the film a lot, and it helps that actor Tim Haars turns in a really solid performance.
All in all Ron Goossens: Low-Budget Stuntman gives exactly what it promises: a low-brow comedy made with high-brow polish. It's shocking and irreverent and fun in all the right places, and I'm still looking forward to Steffen and Flip's next film.