If there’s one thing Inglorious Basterds proved, it’s that mutilating and killing Nazis is always a fun time. Nazis are generally a pretty easy target for creative media, since you can basically do anything to them and people won’t care what happens as a result. Maim them, torture them, brutalize them, it’s all good. After all, they’re just Nazis. So in theory, making a movie that’s essentially an R-rated version of Home Alone in which a preteen girl comes up with a variety of creative ways to kill the Nazis invading her home sounds like a great idea. Unfortunately, Becky completely lacks in terms of any substance or worthwhile plot behind “watch this little girl fuck up a bunch of Nazis.” And not even in a fun way.
Right off the cuff, the film starts as pretentious as possible, using symmetrical imagery of neo-Nazis in prison and a day in the life of the average US public school student. This parallel imagery trick is something the film will continue to do throughout the rest of its runtime, though nowhere is it more blatant than during this introductory sequence. Once the opening credits are finished, the film almost immediately sets the stage for the movie’s central (and only) plot thread: A group of neo-Nazi extremists led by Kevin James escape a prison bus and are unleashed upon the world as Becky, a young teenage girl, travels to her secluded home in the woods alongside her father, step-mother, and younger step-brother.
From here we learn that Becky’s mom has recently died, Becky is pissed at her father for wanting to remarry so quickly, and a bunch of other useless information that has very little impact on the plot itself. Almost instantly after meeting up, Kevin James and his band of Nazi buddies stumble upon Becky’s house in search of some ancient key that will lead them to a secret “Anglo-Saxon, white supremacist treasure.” Sort of like National Treasure, but really racist. If this is all starting to sound a little stupid, hold on, because the stupid train has only left the station, and it has absolutely no brakes. One thing leads to another, bloodshed occurs, and eventually Becky is left to fend for herself as she desperately (but also somehow confidently and easily) comes up with different household weapons and traps to mutilate the Nazi invaders.
While all of this might sound fun, goofy, and even somewhat lighthearted in a ridiculous parody sort of way, the actual film takes itself extremely seriously, to the point where it’s almost comical just how much conviction the different characters put into their ridiculous lines and demeanor. Becky in particular makes such a sudden shift from angry, to heartbroken, to confident, to gleefully murderous in such a short span of time that I really wasn’t sure what tone the movie was trying to set after a while. Is she still the victim of this situation, or is she just reveling in the violence of her own actions? Is she sad that her life is falling apart before her eyes or is she cold and unfeeling, motivated by nothing but a newfound bloodlust?
The absolute lack of direction also carries over to other characters, mainly Kevin James’ weirdly polite and intimidating yet idiotic and bumbling demeanor. Though his personality is nowhere nearly as inconsistent and scatterbrained as Becky’s. Pacing also plays a huge part in this film feeling disjointed from reality, as it breezes through the main plot points very quickly and does basically nothing to develop the character of Becky beyond having her be upset at her dad, then happy at him, then upset again. We don’t know anything about her other than the implication that she’s “rebellious” and “not like the other girls” and all that other stereotypical stuff we’ve seen a hundred times before. But once the action picks up, it’s incredibly start-and-stop, with scenes of Becky being confident in her approach, then panicking when she starts losing the fight, then instantly confident again when it turns in her favor, then back to running away, etc. Rinse and repeat, over and over. The whole thing just feels so bipolar and unnatural.
However, while the film is basically as predictable as you can possibly get, there are a few noteworthy aspects worth mentioning. The violence is definitely extremely graphic and over-the-top, especially a certain scene involving eyeballs and scissors. It seems to be shooting for Grindhouse levels of absurdity, with gallons of blood and constant gore, so if you’re into that sort of thing, then maybe Becky will interest you. I also have to give props to Kevin James’ right hand man Apex (or as we lovingly called him “Big Face”). He’s pretty much the only character in the entire movie with any sort of depth, mostly because he’s constantly conflicted about following the orders of a big fat Nazi dude just to obtain his freedom. Though trust me, his plot thread doesn’t really go anywhere either.
All in all, Becky is just sort of bland. At its highest point, it provides some fun over-the-top graphic violence, and at its lowest point, it’s downright insulting the viewer’s intelligence. It’s a movie that definitely thinks it’s a lot smarter than it really is, but without any background or motivation driving these characters, they basically all come across as blank slates up against the most boring villains in the world: Nazis. And sure, you can kill them in lots of creative ways, and kick the absolute crap out of them without having anyone bat an eye, but if there’s no reason to actually care about the story happening on screen, it comes across as more gore porn than anything else. If you want to watch a bunch of ignorant neo-Nazis get murdered in different brutal ways, go for it. If you’re looking for a movie that had actual thought put into it beyond its gimmick, you’re probably out of luck.
3/10 – Bad