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EVENINGS OUT

 


December 2, 2011

Evenings Out

Dreaming of a ginger Jesus

Writer-director unleashes political incorrectness with the greats

We all have childhood dreams. Some want to be astronauts when they grow up, others cowboys. Some want to be lawyers, some doctors. Superheroes, vampires, gay newspaper writers--all childhood aspirations to be found among the general population.

Not many people, one would guess, want to be Jesus.

Enter Mangus (Ryan Nelson Boggus), a floppy-haired ginger teen with Jesus in his blood. His grandfather portrayed the aforementioned messiah in a church nativity, and his father was the star of Jesus Christ Spectacular, which his high school puts on every year, since they cannot afford the rights to Jesus Christ Superstar.

He kills in the audition and gets cast, but during the post-announcement celebration, the Hummer his friend’s father rented for them drives under a low-hanging banner for the auditions, slicing his friends in half and paralyzing Mangus.

That’s how Mangus! starts, the new film by Ash Christian, an actor/writer/director from Texas who seems intent on becoming the next Gregg Araki or Bruce LaBruce (alas, much less sex), or even John Waters--who has a cameo in Mangus!, playing the actual Jesus in a strip-club vision.

That last item needs some more emphasis. John Waters. Playing Jesus. Appearing to a teenager in a strip club. Let that sink in. Jesus with a pencil moustache. It’s almost enough to cause a mass conversion to Christianity.

After Mangus is paralyzed, his incredibly fey rival, the son of the mayor, is given the role. The mayor’s wife doesn’t think Jesus should be a cripple, not to mention how talented she thinks her son is. She enlists the help of Mangus’ atrocious stepmother to steal the part.

To add insult to injury, Mangus’ father gets recalled to active duty in Iraq, and Mangus is sent to live with his mother, half-sister and his mother’s way-too-young boyfriend in their trailer.

With all these horrors arrayed against him, the question is, can Mangus overcome all these shortcomings, including his own fairly evident insanity, and get back his role as Jesus?

In addition to Boggus and Waters, already mentioned, the film includes Heather Matarazzo (Welcome to the Dollhouse, The L Word, a slew of other things) as Mangus’ half-sister, Jessica Simpson. Not the singer, mind you, but a girl named Jessica Simpson.

Jennifer Coolidge, one of the funniest actresses on the planet even if she does not believe it herself, plays Mangus’ mother, while adorable gay leprechaun Leslie Jordan (Sordid Lives) portrays the director of Jesus Christ Spectacular.

The cast is incredibly fun, and seem to be having a great time going completely nuts onscreen. The real genius behind the film, however, is Ash Christian, who also wrote, directed and appeared in his earlier film Fat Girls. He doesn’t do any acting in Mangus!, but everything else in his hands.

He’s a madman. The level of political incorrectness in this film is insane. Mangus asks his rival Farrell if he is gay. Farrell replies that he is not--lisping all the way--that although he has had several “homoerotic experiences, I love vaginas!”

Boggus, John D. Montoya (Farrell) and Peter S. Williams (Mangus’ “stepfather” Buddy) provide enough eye candy to come close to qualifying the film as porn, even though there is no nudity and very little sex.

If this is what John Waters is doing, appearing as Jesus instead of directing new films, I will be highly unhappy. However, if I can get Waters as Jesus in addition to new John Waters films, I will die happy.

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