'New West': A Wild, Irreverent, and Hilarious Ride
True comedy films seem to be an endangered species in the world of cinema these days. It is so rare that we see an out and out comedy, as most of the recent releases within the genre are either tinged with drama or are so devoid of humor that they barely even count as such. As someone who loves comedies a whole lot, this decline in the genre makes me sad. Granted, some of the more serious-minded comedies that we get are quite good, but sometimes you just want to watch something that is simply hilarious and over-the-top for the sake of being hilarious and over-the-top. So imagine my surprise when I started watching New West, and found that it is exactly the type of comedy that I have been missing over the years. It is a wild, profane, and hysterical film that is sure to offend and confuse some viewers, but for me, it's a great throwback to the comedies that I grew up on, and has such a creative spirit to it that I can't help but admire.
The film begins by introducing us to a pair of outlaws known as Gene Rogers and Trigger. Gene takes on a bit of a cowboy archetype, while Trigger is his trusty steed, represented as a man wearing a horse mask. The two end up crossing over into a career as musicians and actors, and become big stars. However, their massive fame leads Gene to heavy drinking and drug use, which causes a rift between him and Trigger. The pair end up going their separate ways, with Trigger ultimately becoming a successful music producer, and Gene becoming a washed-up has-been. Several years later, the two are reunited, and must work together to take down a mysterious villain who has ties to their past.
To call New West a broad comedy seems like an understatement, as the film is so over-the-top and gleefully obscene from start to finish. With copious f-bombs, penis jokes, fart jokes, and other general raunchiness, the film is sure to offend some viewers. As for me, I'm just glad that somebody out there made a film that revels in this specific brand of humor, and was not afraid to get weird and wild with it. The film's humor feels rather individualistic, although you can feel some of its possible influences throughout. I specifically got some Trey Parker and Matt Stone vibes from some of the jokes, as well as a little bit of Tim and Eric at times. Despite this, it manages to feel like its own thing, and the jokes land far more often than not. The script, co-written by Jordan Mears and Coty Greenwood, takes a familiar concept (in this case, two old friends who have a falling out but must reunite to take on a villain) and allows them to put their own ridiculous spin on it. This is a film where one of the main characters is a man in a horse mask and that's not even the wildest thing about it. The big swings that Mears and Greenwood take in terms of the film's humor and overall narrative pay off big time, as it allows the film to feel original and wholly unique, and it gives it a cartoonish energy that I vibed with instantly.
The cast is also fantastic, and everyone is so game for how zany and wild the film is. I especially enjoyed Coty Greenwood's performance as Trigger, as acting while wearing a rubber horse mask is no easy feat. But he is able to physicalize the character so well, which allows the personality of the character to shine, while also allowing for some great physical comedy. Matt Jordan is also putting in some good work as Gene, capturing the faded glory of the character in a way that is funny, but also a little sympathetic. The friendship between Gene and Trigger is the emotional core of the film, and both actors (as well as Zach Keast who plays a younger version of Gene in flashbacks) have a great dynamic together that help drive this home. There is a surprising amount of heart under all the dirty jokes and bonkers storytelling, but that's a big part of what makes this film work.
I also have to shout out the supporting cast, all of whom feel so dialed into the world of the film, and several that make a big mark on the film. Daniel Harris especially stands out, mainly because of how wild his character looks. I definitely would have wanted to see more of his character, as there seems to be so much more going on with him than what we see here. I also appreciated Mike Brabender, who pulls double duty as Gene's biggest fan and the film's narrator. His narration is what sticks out to me particularly, as his deep voice fits the film perfectly, and is quite funny throughout. The rest of the supporting cast is quite memorable, and even some of the characters that show up for just one scene still make the most of what they are given and got some pretty big laughs from me.
Tying everything together, however, is Jordan Mears's direction, which feels influenced by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, with a hint of Edgar Wright for good measure. That said, he has a distinct voice as a filmmaker that is on full display here. The comedy is especially on point, as stated above, and the way that Mears frames the more absurd elements is highly effective and feels so natural in the context of the film. He has a clear knack for directing comedy, and his work in the film's big action setpiece near the end is quite solid. You can feel the passion that Mears has for this film all throughout it, which makes the film even stronger. At the very least, this film posits Jordan Mears as a filmmaker to watch, and I'm curious to see what he does next.
What impresses me most, however, is how Mears and his crew were able to make this film on a micro-budget, and have it look as good as it does. The film does have a low-budget charm to it in places, but it definitely operates on a larger scope than one might expect. On top of that, so much is fit into the film's 45 minute run time, yet it never feels overstuffed. I will say that it does feel a little rushed in the third act, but for the most part, it flows pretty well. It says a lot about a filmmaker when they are able to accomplish a lot with limited resources, especially in their early work. With New West, Mears does just that, and delivers a wild, raucous comedy that deserves a wider audience.
New West isn't for everyone, as some audiences might be turned off by its raunchy humor and bonkers story elements, but for me, I was all in on this film from the beginning. It's the type of film that just doesn't get made very often anymore, and it is so funny and full of heart that I can't help but like it a lot. This was definitely a labor of love for everyone involved, and it shows in the finished product. It is such a fun ride, and is one of the better comedies I've seen in the past few years. I hope it gets more recognition once more people get the chance to see it, as it is such a great film, and everyone involved put in such great work on it. Regardless, New West is easily one of the wildest films I've seen this year, and it is an absolute delight.