Year Released: 2001
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 105 minutes
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Okay, we’ll start with the characters: Ernie is a pathetic, suicidal, coke-snorting transvestite. Frank is an foul-mouthed, abusive Jerry Springer father-of-the-year. Chuck is the drug-dealing best friend who still lives with his screeching mother.
And now the plot: We open with Ernie standing over three dead bodies that he has pummeled to death with a baseball bat. A sudden hazy flashback takes us into Ernie’s bedroom, where he’s curled up under the covers. Frank bursts in to search for drugs. Big surprise – he finds some. Frank then manhandles his son and spews obscenities at him. His son cries out for help, but Frank continues to humiliate him.
Ernie wishes he was dead, and Frank decided to take him up on the offer by driving him to a nearby bridge so he can jump. Ernie chickens out, of course, and sulks at his friend Chuck’s house later that night. During this moping session, Ernie wishes for his father’s death, and this gives Chuck an idea. The two form a pact to murder Frank – Chuck will do the deed while Ernie establishes an alibi by drinking himself to a stupor at a local party.
Of course, Chuck the eternal screw-up screws up and accidentally bludgeons Ernie’s mother to death instead. Chuck confesses his “mistake” to Ernie who takes the opportunity to wallow in more self pity.
Upon returning home, Ernie tries to make peace with Frank, and there is a brief moment of solace between father and son, which sends the movie into a bizarre series of Vietnam flashbacks and Vegas lounge-singer fantasies. Somewhere in the middle of all this is a truly disturbing flashback of Ernie dressing up in women’s clothing.
Frank then announces that due to his brilliant detective work, he has deduced that Chuck is the killer based on tracking down a stolen CD. Frank and Ernie go after Chuck, and after a bunch of yelling, Ernie ends up strapping on a pair of balls for the first time in his life and beats his father and best friend to death with the bat.
When the cops start coming after Ernie, he is visited by a mysterious stranger (a not unobvious Satan character) who offers him a chance to go back and change the past. Of course, Ernie never does anything right, and with a little help from Satan, each attempt to fix his life ends up a mess.
Rarely does one find a film with absolutely no likable characters in it at all. However, this is the result of Norman Macera’s “The Strike Zone.” It’s sad when Satan is the only likeable character in a film.
The choice of the director to cast himself as the ever-heinous father is an awkward choice. While Macera’s presence is disturbingly appropriate for the character of Frank, he likes the camera a bit too much, taking too many opportunities to spout lines of dialogue with a menagerie of insults strung together (e.g.: “pussy, fucking, fairy princess, chicken shit, cocksucking, gutless, ball-less wonder”). You just don’t hear prize dialogue like that every day.
To Macera’s credit, he does understand the general rule of editing and storyboarding. Considering how weak the script was, there was a competent amount of planning and composition. However, no amount of technical expertise could salvage the grueling process of watching Ernie wallow in his pathetic existence.
Posted on August 7, 2003 in Reviews by Kevin Carr
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