Before I start, go and buy this movie. Seriously. You won’t regret it, and independent filmmakers will make a few quid. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
The Thompsons, Jerry and Mike, are hard workers. “Thor At The Bus Stop“ features them as writers, directors, stars, editors, and cameramen (their relative G Scott Thompson also has a number of jobs on the movie). With something this clever and good, I wish I could point to their career in indie cinema, but there’s really nothing – a couple of short films, then this. I also wish I could point to a much bigger career after this movie, as it deserved to be an indie hit – but it looks like a few more short films, then 2014’s “Popovich and the Voice of the Fabled American West”. Seriously, people with money! Invest in these guys!
As I watched this, my initial impression changed. I thought it was a fairly broad comedy, masquerading as a “Slacker” style indie drama; but the more I saw of it, the more I realised it was actually a very clever, moderately profound movie masquerading as a fairly broad comedy masquerading as a “Slacker” style indie drama. There’s a lot to love and a lot to take in, which is incredibly surprising for a movie which looks like it was filmed almost entirely in a deserted suburb one bright summer’s day, and where most of the budget went on the cameo by Teller (of “Penn and“ fame).
A couple of guys apparently suffering from some sort of anhedonia are driving round one day, wondering why nothing interesting ever happens. While wondering whether to just follow someone round to really get into their story, they pass Thor, stood at a bus stop. Yes, the Thor! A little kid walks up and starts giving him grief so he walks off to find another bus stop, then the movie, in a way which seems random at first, introduces new character after new character. I was about to make the second reference to “Slacker” but that movie never introduced characters like this:
So, there’s a fake news crew; a couple of cops who arrested Teller; a guy with a roadsign through his chest; Passenger Seat Pete, the guy who’s too laid back, and his girlfriend Trish who wants him to act like an asshole more often; the great Ultra Stan, pizza delivering philosopher; One-Way Walter, car-jacker and wannabe murderer; White Trash Chuck, who’s got a heart of gold underneath those tattoos; among many others. The majority of the movie is these people seemingly aimlessly driving or wandering the streets, but as they meet, they bounce off each other in fascinating and hilarious ways, progressing their own little stories and that of the overall movie. The development, the chain reaction of the stories, consists of some seriously clever filmmaking.
The central melancholy comes from Thor himself. It’s the Twilight of the Gods, and he’s off to fight the world-snake Jörmungandr (an ouroboros, a snake so large it is pictured devouring its own tail). He knows how it’ll go – he’ll win, but with its dying movement the snake will cover him in venom, killing Thor too; and as no-one even remembers he exists any more, he’s feeling pretty bad about having to die to protect them. Also, he’s sort of a dick, which is a touch I liked. That feeling settles over the rest of the proceedings, even the more knockabout comedy moments, and it’s to the movie’s credit.
The Thompsons play Thor and White Trash Chuck, and they both do a fine job (although Thor, and one or two others, skate that fine line between being deadpan and just not being very good actors). By and large, though, the cast, made up largely of friends of the directors, is much better than they have any right to be. Ultra Stan, Trish and One Way Walter are all superb.
“Thor At The Bus Stop” even has a great ending, a rare example of an indie movie that absolutely nails it. It looks good too, with the beautiful blue sky and the flat outskirts of Las Vegas standing in for Anytown. Go and buy this!
Rating: thumbs up