"How about a tall glass of cancer, focker?"
"Tell me, is the glass half full or half empty?"
Millenium Hawkwind Films
2004 Straight to Video Release
Directed by Tanya Carlson
Starring Victor Pierre as Bart Evans
Brittany Murphy as General Christmas
Andy Garcia as The Janitor
And Mary-Kate Olsen as The Town Groveler
"I must admit it is getting cold in here.
Maybe I wear some of your clothes?"
There is something disconcerting about watching a film where a woman eating a handful of earthworms behind an old shed is the first visual encountered. She is wearing an old flannel shirt and blue jeans with holes in them and no shoes. She is just eating the earthworms and we watch for a moment, unsure whether this is the film or an advertisement for the theatre snack bar. Then she looks up with a crazed expression on her face, the worms still dangling from her lip, and says, "What are you looking at, focker?"
It is a truly masterful moment in modern filmmaking.
It may be formulaic and predictable, but Fan Out and Find the Focker is a jittery piece of filmmaking. At times we see the cameraman stepping out from behind his camera to get a cold glass of beer. This wasn't a mistake in the editing. The director wants us to see this. It tells us something about ourselves and it is very poignant.
In part, the film is a dramatic send-up of the B-movies of the 1970s. You know the kind. The ones with zombie cheerleaders, cannibalistic biker gangs and corrupt cops. There is even a creepy janitor who spends much of the movie trying to fulfill him dream of "cupping a bare female ass cheek." While his role seems unrelated to the film through the first two hours, the final hour reveals that he has always been integral.
"I saw him up in Jefferson County last week.
He is not an invalid."
"I could have told you that."
It is witty dialogue such as this that makes Fan Out and Find the Focker into an instant video classic. Mary-Kate Olsen's portrayal of "the town groveler" is pure genius and shows us she is the one with the talent and that Ashley is just along for the ride. The depth of her grovelling is significant. She spends most of her time in the film crawling around on all fours looking for insects to eat. When she meets the creepy janitor later in the film, she agrees to let him cup her bare buttock if he will give her access to the basement of the high school where he works. This is where the real action begins. There are zombie cheerleaders in the basement. They have lived down there since the early 1960s when they were sent there by a powerful spell cast by a wizard known only as "Lyndon Baines Johnson." The town groveler decides they should be set free.
Bart Evans has all the makings of a hero. He is tall, strong and wears very stylish clothes. Early on we see his dreams, where he envisons a woman in a military uniform telling him how to save his hometown from something called "the dreaded evil within." Victor Pierre, appearing in his first feature film after years of guest appearances in late night infomercials as a satisfied client of the company's product, hits a home run with Fan Out and Find the Focker. In case you had not guessed, he is the focker the rest of the cast ends up fanning out to find. This does not stop him from accomplishing such things as picking up a girl working at Dairy Queen (played with delightful edginess by an uncredited Annabeth Gish), lighting two drums of oil on fire to protest the war in Iraq and registering to vote in the upcoming elections. Bart Evans is a hero for the modern day.
"Hey, focker, would you sign my petition?"
"Petition? What's that, like a cast or something?"
"Fight the power, focker! Fight the power!"
The characters are street smart and aware of their surroundings, with some lapses. At one point, while driving a stolen, decked out Mercury Cougar, Bart Evans fails to wait long enough after paying a toll for the gate to rise. When he hits the closed gate, hilarity ensues.
The woman from the dream appears as the leader of an underground paramilitary group funded by the United States government. General Christmas looks sharp in her uniform and never fails to make certain her orders are obeyed by the men under her command. A steel-toed boot to the head is her favorite method of punishing subordinates, which also provides some needed foreshadowing of how she later dispenses with the leader of the cannibal bikers.
There has been relative peace in the village of New Town since Lyndon Johnson intervened while serving as Vice President. The flesh-eating bikers stayed in the KOA campground outside New Town and honored their agreement to only eat people who go camping. The zombie cheerleaders remained locked in the high school basement. The creepy janitor leered at high school girls in the locker room but never touched them. All this is about to change, right before our eyes, in Panavision.
"We haven't seen this much chaos since we tried to keep the blacks out in '58."
"Wrong answer. Someone has wiped out the history of this town between 1960 and 1962."
"So, it is suspicious is all I'm saying."
The complicated and highly intelligent plot begins with the town groveler eating worms behind the shed even before the opening credits. We are led to believe she is important, and we are not let down in this regard. She is important. Without giving too much of the story away, her relationship with Bart Evans and Lyndon Johnson forms the connection between two generations of true American heroes. Her mother sold her soul to the devil in exchange for giving Johnson the strength to overcome the zombie cheerleaders and the cannibal bikers. Now she must regain her own soul in order to help Bart Evans and General Christmas win the battle again. It opens an amazing window of character development, as both the groveler and General Christmas resolve past difficulties with their mothers soon after.
The groveler is the first to see the freed zombie cheerleaders, which jogs her memory and gives us an exquisite flashback to her mother making love to Lyndon Johnson and giving him a magic sword. She suspects the janitor, which is no surprise since she allowed him to cup her bare buttock so she could investigate. Yes, a dozen of the zombie cheerleaders are still contained in the basement, but the groveler has a piece of paper that clearly states there were twenty zombie cheerleaders. What has happened to the other eight? This is the question.
Later, the creepy janitor is seen fondling himself while looking through a peephole between his mop closet and the girls' shower room. He is watching a young sophomore field hockey player (portrayed by Anjelica Huston) taking a shower when the girl begins to show signs of being a werewolf. She then transforms into a zombie cheerleader and comes at him, first by turning into a gas and seeping through his peephole, and then by kicking him in the groin.
"He should not be allowed around young women."
"He's worked here since the 1950s. Do you want to cheat him out of his retirement?"
The creepy janitor seeks out Bart Evans, sensing he is a hero in the same vein as Lyndon Johnson. As we see through a flashback sequence, the janitor was instrumental in telling Johnson where the zombie cheerleaders were the first time around. Naturally, he now takes on the same role, bringing a detailed report to Bart Evans as well as taking a book out of the library for Evans that shows exactly what happened with Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War.
"She has nice flesh folds."
"I don't think, focker. I know."
General Christmas introduces herself to the creepy janitor and becomes the first to call him by his name. She calls him Timmy and seems to know him. We later find out two of his fingers are prosthetic. Her mother bit two of them off back in 1961. They know each other well.
The zombie cheerleaders, who have gained the ability to change between solid, liquid and gaseous forms are emerging from the basement, one at time, so as to not arouse too much suspicion. Once out of their prison, however, they waste no time in arousing every male victim they come across. One of the zombie cheerleaders, Stella, has sex with no fewer than eight pimple-faced geeks before entering the graveyard to cast the spell that will cause the cannibal bikers to rise again.
"She's involved in witchery."
"Yeah, let me have one of those cigars. I understand they keep mosquitoes away."
The bikers rise, but General Christmas and her army are ready for them. In a mostly CGI sequence, the battle royale erupts in the graveyard. This begets a dramatic and memorable meeting between General Christmas and Ted, the leader of the zombie bikers.
Christmas: I wouldn't touch those if I were you.
Ted: I touch what I please.
Christmas: There are things in the world of humans you cannot comprehend.
Ted: Yes, there are. I am at a loss to understand why humans have sex with each other instead of eating each other's flesh.
Christmas: And that is why you will never be able to control this world.
Ted: You no longer concern me... Men! Fan out and find the focker!
With General Christmas defeated and the remnants of her army infected with lust for the zombie cheerleaders, the remainder of the film focuses on Bart Evans, the town groveler and the creepy janitor holed up inside the high school gymnasium while the rest of the cast tries to get inside and kill them. Against almost insurmountable odds, the trio finds a way to persevere, but not before an inspiring visit from the ghost of Lyndon Johnson.
"Believe in yourself, Bart. Believe in yourself as I did. When I was a boy in Texas I never thought I'd take a bath in the White House, but I did, and I still do, every night, in spirit."
Note: Blockbuster has decided not to carry the film because of what they call "gratuitous sex and violence." Fight the power. Go down to your local Blockbuster and demand they carry this title today.