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"Hell and Back" (2015) is one of the worst things I've ever seen.

Look, guys, I swear I'm not prone to hyperbole.  When I title a post, "such-and-such is one of the worst things I've ever seen," I hope you don't think I'm just trying to be funny.  I sincerely mean that Hell and Back is legitimately one of the worst movies I've ever seen in my life.

Not long ago I complained about that bitcoin documentary being really dumb, and in that post, I thought it might be the worst movie I'd see in 2016.  While I still think it's a bad documentary, I can at least appreciate that the people involved have good intentions and are really excited about the subject matter.  I can't say the same about Hell and Back.


The plot gets overly complex and confused as it goes along, but it basically goes like this: Remy (Nick Swardson), a douchebag who works at a crappy carnival, finds a Satanic tome and jokingly uses it to make his coworker, Curt (Rob Riggle), swear a blood oath involving a breath mint.  When Curt reneges on the oath, thinking it's just a game, he ends up getting sucked into Hell.  So Remy and his coworker, Augie (TJ Miller), go into Hell to try to rescue him, and along the way get involved in a bunch of dumbass misadventures involving Satan (Bob Odenkirk), a half-demon / half-human love interest named Deema (Mila Kunis), and a bunch of other assholes.

I'll say exactly three nice things about this movie, because I want to be honest and fair.  Here goes:

1) There were, admittedly, a small handful of jokes that worked.  Like maybe three.  I can't even remember them, but I honestly did laugh a couple of times when I was supposed to.

2) The cast is absolutely terrific.  I can find zero fault in any of the voice acting.  They all did the very best they possibly could, and they all deserve a round of applause for swimming through a sea of garbage without the stink getting in their pores.

3) Visually, this movie is amazing.  The animation is really cool and I loved a lot of the sets and character designs.

There is nothing else I can say that is not a complaint.

The pacing is miserable.  You know that test you do with a movie where you check the time and you either go, "Holy shit, it's only been 10 minutes?!" or you go, "Wow, there's only 10 minutes left!"?  Well, this fails miserably.  I was feeling bored and agitated right around the scene where Remy and Augie first met Deema, and I was not only surprised, but crushed to find out that the movie was only 30 minutes in.  You should never feel depressed when you look at a time counter, but there it was: a reminder that the next hour of my life would be the longest I would ever feel.  And yes, I'm including all the time my daughter spent in the NICU.

The story?  Bleah.  What a joke.  There's so little thought given to concision - it meanders across half a dozen subplots.  They mostly tie together, but only through contrivances or telegraphed punchlines.

The characters?  Oh, God, what a collection of human waste.  Take any character and you'll find either a needlessly cruel caricature, a springboard for intensely mean-spirited comedy, or just a complete asshole.  The protagonist?  He's a one-dimensional ass-hat with no redeemable qualities.  His sidekick?  Just a platform for mindless fat jokes, none of which are particularly clever.

Let me give you an example of how bad the characters are.  At one point, we are introduced to Orpheus, a free-spirited man-whore who is Deema's deadbeat father.  Orpheus is a self-absorbed, narcissistic dickhead who's spent 2,000 years ignoring his daughter and getting drunk in a bachelor pad at the bottom of Hell.  Hell and Back wants us to believe that Orpheus is a generally cool dude and totally worth our time, so by the end of the movie - only a matter of hours in terms of the movie's universe - he not only has earned his daughter's forgiveness, he has also won over the heart of some arbitrary hot angel character who can finish out his collection of sexual conquests.  This is somehow meant to be funny.

Oh, that's the worst of it all.  The comedy?

Yikes.

Hell and Back seems to think that comedy comes from simply being as foul and angry as possible.  You know how shitty comedians will try to riff on porn titles for kids' movies, like "The Booty and the Beast?"  Get it?  Because it's a kid thing that's now perverted?  That's the level of comedy we're talking about here.  There's nothing clever - it's just a contest to see who can wallow in the deepest quantity of piss.

And speaking of the gutter... holy shit, guys, the amount of crappy rape jokes in this movie.  Jesus.  Irreversible has a lighter touch.  If it's not a sight gag, then it's a crappy pun, and if it's not a crappy pun, then it's a shitty monologue, and if it's not a shitty monologue, then it's another fucking sight gag.

Hell and Back seems to think that rape is, in and of itself, funny.  I have no problem with making jokes that involve rape.  Remember when I wrote that really terrible short story only a few months ago?  Rape is fair game for comedy.  But you have to actually tell a joke, guy.  Do something with it.  You can't just be like, "Oh, here's Orpheus's story about how a demon tree raped him when he was a kid."  If you want to make a joke about it, you have to work reallllllly hard to overcome the inherent rage-inducing sadness.  Hell and Back doesn't bother.  It just thinks that tree rape will put a smile on anybody's face.

Dude.  Let me repeat that.  You're making a joke about raping a small child.  That's not something you can half-ass.  You've either got to have the best A-game anyone's ever seen, or you need to knock that shit off and grow the fuck up.

For a long time, I used to say that Transformers 2 was the worst movie I'd ever seen.  It has a lot of problems - it's crude, it's bloated, it's poorly-written, etc.  But in my review, I said the main problem I had was that it was just plain mean.  It feels like a purely misanthropic movie, something crafted out of hate and grossness.

Next to Hell and Back, Transformers 2 is a fucking after-school special.  I've never seen something with so much contempt for humanity in my life, and I once worked for a human trafficker.  (Essentially true story.  I'll tell that some other time.)

Every moment makes me ashamed to be part of the same species as its creators.  It's an abhorrent, grotesque failure of comedy.