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MOVIES - Ron Goossens, Low Budget Stuntman - Review [Fantasia 2017]

Four years after their last offering, Dutch filmmakers Steffen Haars and Flip Van der Kuil are back with another hilariously irreverent comedy filled to the brim with violence, vulgarity, and all around bad taste in Ron Gooseens, Low Budget Stuntman, which recently screened to raucous, rowdy audiences at the 2017 Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal.

The film opens with a severely inebriated Ron (Tim Haars) allowing his equally intoxicated friends to goad him into jumping over a canal with his car. The stunt goes about as well as you might expect, but when a video emerges of Ron bursting from the flaming wreckage, diving into the canal and declaring "I'm totally shitfaced!" the clip immediately goes viral, coining a new international catchphrase and turning Ron into an unlikely and reluctant celebrity. Before long, his phone is ringing off the hook with job offers from cash-strapped film financiers, but Ron is content to sit in the local pub and pound beers with his closest pals.

That is, of course, until his wife Angela (Maartje van de Wetering) threatens to pull the plug on their relationship. She's tired of staying at home and occasionally screwing the neighbors while Ron gets smashed every night, so she lays down a challenge: if Ron can successfully sleep with gorgeous actress Bo Maerten (portraying herself), she'll give their relationship another shot. Far too bombed to recognize the ludicrous nature of this proposal, Ron soon begins accepting job offers to perform bargain-priced stunts on every movie Bo is featured in, unabashedly attempting to woo her during their short screen time together and quickly running afoul of her boyfriend, Waldemar Torenstra (also portraying himself).

It's from these cringe-worthy encounters that much of the film's humor is devised, and the directors walk a razor-thin edge of making Ron just lovable enough that his antics never feel creepy - even when he's climbing a trellis in the middle of the night and collapsing drunkenly into Bo's bedroom, or endangering the lives of everyone on a film set by overturning a vehicle during a scene where he was only required to drive a short distance and stop the car. There's something kind of adorably hapless about this unkempt, belching schlub that we can't help but feel sorry for him, and we genuinely want to root for him to succeed, despite the consequences that triumph would undoubtedly lead to.

Ron Gooseens, Low Budget Stuntman isn't the sort of film destined to have mass-market appeal, and its frequent references to Dutch cinema and pop culture will go right over the heads of most American viewers. But for those who like their comedies with a healthy dose of the crass, the crude and the tasteless, it could easily become another cult classic, the kind of flick to watch with a group of buddies while sitting around and throwing back cold ones.

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