23 Sep 2020

Review - Becky

From At The Movies, 7:31 pm on 23 September 2020

Becky is about a young girl protecting her home from bad guys with extreme violence. Think Home Alone meets Rambo.

Simon Morris: Becky is based on two premises. The first is, if you've only got a low budget, make a horror film - or at least a violent jeopardy movie - somewhere with minimal location fees.

The second is steal from the best. I've never seen a film that wore its influences so openly!

Listing them all would take longer than we've got, so let me say there are bits of Die Hard, Carrie, The Panic Room, the first Terminator and Deliverance in the story of "Becky versus the Bad Guys".

But most of all, the memory it elicits is that Christmas comedy classic Home Alone.

We'll get to that in a minute. But first, meet Becky, a kid with problems. Her beloved Mum has died, and she and Dad aren't getting along.

Dad decides what they need is a weekend in a woodland cabin, along with his new girlfriend Kayla and her little boy Ty.

Nobody's paying attention to that ominous news on the radio.

Here's a tip: don't go out in the woods when there are four dangerous convicts loose. But Becky has stomped off to the lake in a huff, so misses out on a visit from a mysterious stranger.

It's Kevin James, wearing the world's worst beard, and covering up the swastika on his shaven head with a big hat he must have picked up on the way out of jail.

He talks dogs with Dad and Kayla, but is obviously stalling.

Next thing you know, Kevin the Nazi is joined by three more escaped convicts and is holding the family at gunpoint - everyone but Becky.

What do they want, we wonder? It turns out they're looking for a mysterious key. And they're not leaving without it.

All of this is a mere appetizer before the main meal. Becky may be a 13-year-old girl, but she's going to take on these guys, particularly after they start laying into her family.

Becky starts setting up a number of stunts to take out the bad guys - like Home Alone blended with Rambo. And the tone gets darker and more violent, with Becky evolving from cute kid to Halloween nightmare.

When Kevin McAllister took on two inept burglars in Home Alone, the ingenuity of the stunts took a lot of the curse off the violence. It was cartoon mayhem, like Bugs Bunny.

This is - well, as the poet Longfellow puts it - horrid.

Becky's by no means the first violent moppet on the screen, of course.

Apart from the famous 1950s shocker The bad seed, there was Carrie in the '70s, and more recently the foul-mouthed Hit Girl in the comedy Kick Ass.

So why do I defend them - well some of them - when I find myself dismissing Becky?

It might have been better if it hadn't been so unrelentingly stupid.

Kevin James made his name in lunk-headed comedies like Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and the tastelessly unfunny I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry with Adam Sandler.

He's clearly welcomed the chance to display his range. The problem is he hasn't got any. He remains Kevin James in a stupid beard.

And his character - the alleged neo-Nazi mastermind - keeps tripping over the mat too.

He's only marginally less stupid than his backup stooges, and by the end, we're more scared of 13-year-old Becky than we are of him - swastika or no swastika.

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