“Vengeance,” the first film both written and directed by “The Office” star B.J. Novak, dropped on NBC’s streaming service, and I highly recommend you watch it if you’ve ever listened to a podcast, read an article or watched the news.
There is so much to this film that it’s almost hard to know where to start: the divide portrayed between coastal elites and real red-blooded Americans, the opioid crisis, the collapse of love and family, the whoring nature of hook-up culture, the power of the cowboy, the Second Amendment, abusive and exploitative relationships, modern music, law enforcement — B.J. Novak managed to cover it all and more … and he’s totally given me an existential crisis about everything I am.
The story follows Novak’s character as he sets about using the mysterious death of a girl he hooked up with a few times to launch his podcasting career. A writer for a heap of media outlets, Novak has that same cringe approach to his work as so many others — it’s rarely about the story, but more about the fame, clicks and likes the story will bring him personally.
It’s Ashton Kutcher’s exquisite, lengthy prevarication on these modern trends and the truths about contemporary sociology — from listening to playlists of musicians we barely know instead of records we love, to picking sides in every single online viral crises that has nothing to do with us — that evolves the story into a shameful scolding of how we conduct ourselves en masse.
Still, the film is packed full of laughs, excellent acting and gorgeous Texan backdrops that truly capture our existence. My favorite parts were the not-so-subtle “Fuck-You’s” to the media, journalists, podcasters, and coastal elites can be found in almost every scene. (RELATED: Did ‘Yellowstone’ Drop A Major Spoiler Years Ago That We’ve Ignored Until Now?)
While the movie definitely has a few flaws, they were so nominal compared to the overarching messages that they don’t even need to be explored, in my opinion. Novak successfully gut punched me, slapped me upside the head, and has me seriously contemplating my role in the lives of others.
No matter what, Novak has cemented himself as a serious force to be reckoned with in film making. In a time when the world of entertainment, social media and celebrity seriously needs a mirror held up to itself, he stood there holding it when no one else would.
You can watch the trailer here: