In his directorial debut, B.J. Novak (Ryan from “The Office”) brings us Vengeance, a hysterical and dark film that defines how small a world can be for an introverted reporter with an articulate and creative mind.
In Vengeance Novak plays Ben Manalowitz, a radio host in New York City. When a girl that he previously hooked up with is found dead, Ben decides to go down South to investigate her death. The women’s family hosts Ben and the trip ends up being more than he anticipated. He gets more insight on the girl he dated, but also gets a taste for the place she grew up —a town with an oddball of a family and lots of redneck activities.
Director Novak goes all out in culture mode in Vengeance, and the reporter side of Novak’s character brings out the craziness of the quirky characters in the film, including mother Sharon, played by J. Smith Cameron, and odd town gang member Quentin Sellers, played by Ashton Kutcher. Both actors have laid-back personalities, and they can both be silly, which works well with this dark comedy.
With the small-town setting, the background of Novak’s character, and the mystery, Vengeance is a ride of deceitful but clever humor. The title of the film may make its audience assume that the film is geared toward revenge, which is what the girl’s family wants in the beginning. But that is certainly not the film’s focus. It is more about Ben, a New York City guy, learning to blend with the rural folks and starting to become one of them.
Novak’s directing in Vengeance is top-notch, his character is outstanding, and the film is a slightly quirky but rather intriguing flick. It had me deep in thought and curiosity, but it also made me laugh a lot. I was sold on the news and reporting concept, and it was fascinating to see Ben try to adapt with the people he meets in the film. Vengeancebrings a small world of possibilities together, and it is stellar. Three and a half stars for Vengeance.