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Struggling to accept the death of his mother, T.J. befriends Hesher, a twenty-something misfit who becomes both a mentor and a bad influence on the lost and awkward teen. Hesher soon invites himself to live with T.J. and his heartbroken father. The bizarre relationship is tested when T.J. develops a crush on a supermarket checkout girl who rescues him from a bully. If you already think that the plot appears odd, you haven't seen how weird it gets. Even though this is a dark comedy and delivers a few laughs, it ultimately isn't quite able to lift off the ground. There are multiple occasions where the screenwriters clearly tried too hard to come off as witty and 'indie'. These elements feel forced. Despite Hesher being the title character, he's the most one-dimensional character on screen. He demonstrates the same emotions time and time again and simply doesn't give the audience much to work with. Now that I got most of the negatives out of the way, I can say what I enjoyed about Hesher. The screenplay does a wonderful job with keeping the attention of the viewers. Audiences will feel able to sympathize for T.J. and wants him to get through his hardships. We never get to know very much about Hesher, although he delivers some laughs.
The cast is what initially caught my attention. The four main actors are Devin Brochu, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, and Rainn Wilson. Brochu plays T.J. quite well. Even though he isn't a big name in the industry, he displays some real potential. Some of his lines come across as a bit uninspiring, but he does have talent. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Hesher. As previously stated, the character is very one-dimensional. Regardless, Levitt is an undeniably entertaining actor. He makes the character seem more meaty than it really is. Natalie Portman isn't in the film very much. However, she conveys Nicole, the supermarket checkout girl, quite well. She's an extremely charming actress. Rainn Wilson generally plays the humorous roles. In this case, he's in a more serious persona. Similar to Portman, he isn't given much screen time but succeeds in the scenes he's in.
Big names in Hollywood seem to enjoy occasionally taking part in the independent genre. This certainly isn't a big blockbuster. Made on an estimated 7 million dollars, Hesher has a grainy presentation. It's all the atmosphere being created by Director Spencer Susser. The audio mix impressed me more than the visuals. Dialogue is never difficult to hear and the surrounds are used very well. Even the subwoofer is given shining moments. This isn't going to give your home theater system a workout, but it's more than I expected from a dark comedy.
Quite a few of the early reviewers disliked Hesher. Some user reviews gave the movie a near perfect score. I don't agree with either of these ratings. It's right in the middle. I hoped for more with both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Natalie Portman on board, but it isn't a complete failure. There are portions where the film falls flat on its face and other times where it does what it's set out to do. At least it kept me entertained from start to finish. Hesher will surely divide audiences. It's an okay motion picture that ends up being forgettable.