What I'm Watching: Motivational Growth
Motivational Growth is another movie I've wanted to get around to reviewing for ages now. I discovered it, saw it was really strange and unique, and had Jeffrey Combs in it, so I really wanted to see it. But a lot of those factors also are what took me so long to get around to getting some thoughts down for ya.
It starts off simply enough, with the story of a reclusive man who hasn't left his apartment in months, and one day his tv dies. His ancient, family tv that is almost an heirloom and passed down. A tv named Kent. And trust me, things get stranger from here.
Once it dies, Ian must confront the world once more, at the very least to have his tv fixed. But he discovers a gigantic mold growth in his bathroom. That talks. And wants him to do things.
With his tv, his only friend, his only escape gone, Ian tries to kill himself, and fails spectacularly, yet another thing he decides he's terrible at. But that's also when the mold appears, and things get even worse.
"The mold knows, Jack. The mold knows."
This is a strange movie. Strange doesn't even begin to cover it, really. Surreal starts to come close. A lot of the movie's plot is moved forward by 8bit sequences, parodies of tv shows and commercials, and the music for the movie is also wonderfully 8bit. It's this movie about a guy that's lost touch with reality, has talking mold, depends on his tv, and at the same time talks about consumer culture, and there's a fight for Ian's soul between the mold and the tv.
Ian talks directly to the camera for a lot of the movie, as our narrator and philosopher, and insight into his life and disturbed mental state.
The Mold seems like Ian's only friend on the one hand, trying to help him, make him better, more confident, and a competent human being. But the Mold obviously has ulterior motives, and uses Ian for its own purposes.
And then the Mold starts piling up bodies, because it can't have anyone else manipulating its pet project.
"The Mold started talkin' when you needed it to! The Mold started talking because it has a PLAN for you."
The Mold brings a lot of the humour, clearly. It's hilarious that Ian is constantly A) being called Jack. And B) constantly just calls his new friend "Mold" and is immediately corrected to THE Mold. Ian brings a lot of humour to the proceedings as well, through his observations on life and reality, as well as his growing frustrations at the world and the Mold.
The movie's never quite clear just what is real and what isn't. You would think with a talking mold, the boundaries of reality would be clear. But then we start having Ian and the Mold having a chat over Ian's corpse. Which is there one second and gone the next. Ian dives into the tv, there's the 8bit sequences that occur...this movie is just bizarre.
Of course, our own tenuous grasp of what reality is in this movie only makes it that much harder for Ian to figure it out, since he's in the midst of this mess.
If I had to *guess* what's going on, when Ian tries to kill himself after Kent's 'demise', he is more successful than he ever suspects, and the rest of the movie is spent in a war for his soul by personifications of good and evil; the tv (And a repairman) and the mold. If Ian chooses one side, his soul goes one way, but if he goes with the Mold, well, things get dark.
The puppetry is awesome, coupled with the amazing voice work of Jeffrey Combs. The Mold is charming, despite being, y'know, MOLD. (THE Mold...) It speaks like it's out of the 50s, which makes sense for Ian, since he seems like he's constantly stuck in the past.
Like I said, this is a strange movie. And I love it. It's deep and layered, and I find and think of new stuff every time I've watched it, and that's why it's taken me so long to review. This movie is not going to be for everyone, since it's weird, gross, and disjointed, with some bits that feel like useless padding, but at the same time give the movie it's singular vision and voice. It's downright impossible to summarise, and that summary is going to turn off as many people as it draws in.
The big problems with this movie are the sheer levels of strange. It is, quite frankly, an incoherent mess, that is probably too smart for its own good, and too smart for the audience. It's got a lot of ideas, that don't quite mesh into a singular vision. It's still SUPER enjoyable, with very interesting characters, and interesting things to say on reality, consumerism, and culture, and man's need for community.
If nothing else, this movie will cause discussions amongst people who've seen it, with their own ideas on what happened, what the movie is trying to say, and it is also very quotable.
But, it's not for everyone. I want to recommend it, but the weirdness will turn half those people off, and the fact that it never quite pulls together into a story that makes sense, nor does it really WANT to, will turn off half of those remaining. Those few that are still with the movie, will probably love it.
It's worth seeing just for Combs, almost, and really, how often can you say you watched a movie about a man's struggle for his immortal soul and a giant talking growth of mold?
Motivational Growth is one of my favourite finds of the year, but it is not an easy movie to talk about, and that is part of it's charm right there. This has cult classic written all over it.