Johnboy is a short film that I watched on Youtube the other day. Its plot is pretty mundane, and the theme of needing money fast has been well-tread in both film and television over the years, so I can’t really say any of that stuff is original. However, what is original, and what ultimately intrigued and repulsed me throughout was the depths that the 20-something, titular character Johnboy would sink to; the total scumbag that he is. Even worse, he almost seemed proud of the fact that he’s a derelict. If the creator was going for a flawed, but sympathetic character, he failed. Instead, the character of Johnboy is the pure manifestation of “flaw”, and it’s both the film’s greatest strength and weakness. It’s almost like that “someone you love to hate” cliche.
Johnboy needs money for child support, and the 20 plus minute film depicts his journey in search of said cash money. During which he learns nothing about hard work and responsibility. He begins by first asking his friend’s dad for the money he needs straight-up, and when he is refused (and somewhat surprised by it), he continues on his quest, ends up in a variety of comical situations where he refuses to put in even minimal effort, and all-the-while holds on to the hope that the money will somehow materialize out of nothing. I think I found the character of Johnboy to be more annoyingly pathetic than funny, and the best lines came from the people he interacted with, people you might consider his victims.
Though overall, I laughed. An early scene where he tries to trade in junk for money at a pawn shop is pretty hilarious, as is the scene when he meets a professional scam-artist. The humor is consistent throughout, and I think there could be a future for this character, as long as there’s a humanizing sidekick with him. Someone to tamper my urge to somehow punch Johnboy in the face, through my computer screen…I don’t care if my hand gets bloody; I don’t have an anger problem. Furthermore, it became obvious shortly into the film that the character is supposed to represent our entire, lazy generation…or something. So maybe the anger and annoyance I felt towards Johnboy is really just a reflection and ultimately recognition of the Johnboy inside me. I certainly put off writing this review for as long as I could.
Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWLN58Qcc0E
An alumnus of the UMASS Amherst Journalism undergraduate program, Michael lives in Medford, MA and spends his time in local parks, contemplating life. Michael can be reached at email@example.com.