Plenty of times people go to the movies hoping to see the next best thing. The desire to be wowed can get the in the way of enjoying lighter fare. Apparently something simply being “fun” isn’t good enough these days. Too often it’s viewed as a dirty word. Whatever negative weight may be carried with it, is a product of those who only use it as such. More often than not, it should be seen as crutch in need of being embraced. Specially if you couple it with a phrase like “delightful”. In truth, that’s the best and only way to describe the feeling that’s conveyed by Heavy Trip. While it dove-tails into vignettes a few times, everything is kept afloat by a goofy, well natured cast, always eager to please, without resorting to mawkishness.
The last handful of years has seen a rise of Heavy Metal-comedies. Some better than others. Heavy Trip would have been more of the same, were it not made with an earnestness, not just in it’s approach to subject matter, but to the townspeople effected by the events of the film. While never as outright absurd or raunchy, if you’re a fan of Klown, the New Kids movies, or Super Troopers, you’ll be in good company. Make no mistake, it isn’t as quotable or in your face as those movies, more of a cousin sharing some of the same dna. In no way does that make it any less worth your attention. Actually, it may cause it to appeal to a wider range of audiences. Even the “metal” aspect of the film isn’t done to a degree to be overbearing.
Turo (Johannes Holopainen) is the definition of an ambitious slacker. He works away his days at what seems to be a cross between a retirement home and insane asylum. Long ago he and his friends had a dream of being in a band. They achieved that goal easily, yet have spent the past 12 years practicing in the basement of guitarist Lotvonen’s (Samuli Jaskio) family Reindeer Slaughterhouse.
The rest of the band also seem happy with their minor places in life. Bassist Pasi (Max Ovaska) has total recall when it comes to metal music, which isn’t much use as a local librarian. Jynkky (Antti Heikkinen) is the one with a “semi-functioning” set of wheels. who’s also been pronounced dead twice before. After a chance (and drastic) encounter with the promoter of a Norwegian Metal Festival, the town quickly changes their opinion of the band of misfits. Embracing them like prodigal sons, though may be doing so prematurely.
Heavy Trip is the rare film that leans into predictably, almost as a badge of honor. It doesn’t shy from the fact that like Impaled Rektum (a name that comes with great consternation), it wants to make the most of what may be one shot at the big time. Those looking for a big message, or endless shenanigans may be disappointed, though. Sights are more so focused on lighter fare. In many ways that’s partially due to the fact that the movie feels unstuck in time. While cell phones are used, people walk around with tape players, no one uses the internet and the prevailing vibe is that of “retro-chic”. A welcome change in an age where crassness seems paramount. That’s no small feat and automatically make first time feature directors Jusso Laatio and Jukka Vidgren one’s to keep an eye on, in the international scene.
The glue that keeps everything together is a cast made up of endearing takes on regular stock charaters. There’s the love interest Mia (Minka Kuustonen) who has an independent streak just waiting to defy her cop father. The “villain” feels ripped straight from an 80’s comedy, oozing sleaze and immaturity, using his minor success to intimidate those he views as lesser. Then there’s the band mates themselves. Each of them plays an important cog in a machine that glides rather smoothly, with few bumps getting in the way, Out of the foursome Jynkky and Pasi (sorry, “Xytrax”) make the biggest impressions. Each of them are a study in over-the-top slapstick and stoic reserve, respectively.
Heavy Trip is the kind of movie you put on in the background when in desperate need of a smile. The joy is infectious, even though it never aspires to be ground-breaking. That’s fine and appreciated. Sticking through the movie leads to a third act that borders on full on insanity that the directors are best to explore in a full feature. It won’t win any awards and will fly under the radar for most that live in America. Yet take a chance and seek the film out. A movie like this is a rare commodity these days. Sometimes just being entertaining is a win all itself.