CCan a person ever really be “cancelled”? I used to think no. Allegedly radioactive celebrities still manage to land lucrative Netflix specials, win sold-out stadiums and win illustrious prizes. But what happens if they don’t? You end up with a movie like My son hunter.
The political satire released online today focuses on Hunter Biden, the son of the incumbent US President. It stars Laurence Fox as Hunter, John James as Joe Biden, and Gina Carano as Narrator, a female Secret Service agent invented for the purposes of the film. Fox, an actor whose early films include those of Robert Altman Gosford Park and Shekhar Kapurs Elisabeth: The golden ageHe has become a self-confessed “cancelled” person in recent years thanks to widely criticized statements on issues such as Covid-19, Black Lives Matter and trans rights. Carano, a former wrestler, is also said to have been “cancelled”; her recurring role in the hit Star Wars series The Mandalorian came to a bitter end last year after a series of social media posts about Jews, Covid, gender and voter fraud.
Directed by Robert Davi and distributed via the far-right media platform Breitbart News, My son hunter is a fairly sober work of conservative agitprop. It borrows from the real life of the Bidens – but carefully notes at the outset that it “isn’t a true story” (he shyly adds “…except all the facts”). The film revels in the younger Biden’s well-known struggles with substance abuse and addiction, as well as the “scandal” surrounding his laptop and some of his business relationships. Meanwhile, it paints Joe Biden as a senile, horny crook. In one scene he holds his cell phone upside down and speaks of a “quid per crow”. Another sees him sniffing Carano’s hair fetishistically.
To say that My son hunter is bad would be almost irrelevant. Shot on a small budget, targeting a handful of die-hard Maga heads, this is a niche film for a niche market. You couldn’t even really call it preaching to the choir; this is a sermon to the Vatican itself.
One can only imagine the whiplash Carano must experience; Going from the lavish bombast of a Star Wars set to something like this is a sheer leap indeed. For her part, she’s truly awful here, clad in an ill-fitting suit and delivering lines with effect that makes her plump and unforgettable Mandalorian Character looks like Daniel Day-Lewis’ Lincoln in comparison. Fox throws himself into the role of Hunter with far more vigor, mixing up every drug hit and capricious mood swing, but there’s no getting away from how demeaning the material is. The low point – not just of the film but probably of Fox’s entire screen career – might be the scene where a drugged Hunter stumbles across a party before having a long conversation with a dog, expressed on screen by crudely rendered thought bubbles becomes . Shot.
Another scene begins with a character sitting next to a laptop saying, “I can’t seem to find anything but positive things about the Bidens.” “It’s because you use Google and the mainstream media,” replies her friend. “You must use the alternative search engine.” It frankly defies belief. My son hunter is the type of film that depicts a protest against Black Lives Matter as a fire-ridden war zone and ends with a fantasy sequence in which Hunter Biden is arrested and Donald Trump wins re-election. Much of the film — including its callous handling of addiction and the unashamedly cynical framing of its only black character — would have been truly off-putting if it weren’t so inept at its craft.
The problem, I suppose, is no matter how ridiculous My son hunter is, there is at least a touch of reality. The film had me rushing to Google several times, where I discovered that this or that unflattering Biden trifle was actually rooted in the truth. (I guess the search engine’s “pro-Biden” filter must not have worked that day.)
Perhaps my greatest discovery from the film was Biden’s alleged confrontation with a gangster called “Cornpop” when he was young. (According to Biden, he stared the razor-wielding cornpop down at a swimming pool while grasping a 6-foot metal chain. In the film, this anecdote is thrown out of nowhere mid-conversation by a rambling, almost insane Biden.) Others spun from headlines Nuggets are less amusing; Hunter’s business dealings with China (here inflated into a massive conspiracy) come under scrutiny. I am reminded how successorFictional right-wing media tycoon Logan Roy described his own news ethos: “A bit of damn spice; a bit of fun; a bit of truth.” In its own brash, cheesy way, that’s what My son hunter tries to do.
Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, it’s often difficult to summon much genuine celebrity sympathy: A dwindling Hollywood career would, quite frankly, be a luxurious problem for most people. But it’s hard not to shed a small tear for Carano and Fox, who made their beds and now seem intent on lying in them — rotten, lice-infested sheets and all.
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/hunter-biden-movie-breitbart-laurence-fox-gina-carano-b2160240.html Laurence Fox’s embarrassing Hunter Biden film is a fate worse than ‘cancellation’