Butt Boy, 2019.
Directed by Tyler Cornack.
Starring Tyler Cornack, Tyler Rice, Shelby Dash and Austin Lewis.
The impact of a lonely man’s fetish for rectal insertion resonates almost a decade later when he crosses paths with an alcoholic detective.
If there was an award for “riskiest movie title to Google”, then Butt Boy would have this year’s crown won already. What’s more remarkable, though, is that writer-director-star Tyler Cornack manages to live up to that bonkers title with his unhinged story. This is one of the weirdest and most defiantly idiosyncratic movies of recent years – albeit one that lacks the ambition to push beyond its one-joke premise in order to say something interesting about the world.
The movie opens with a bold prologue in which corporate IT tech Chip Gutchell (Cornack) finds his life kicked into gear when a prostate exam triggers a realisation that he gets a perverse thrill from, to put it as cleanly as possible, sticking things where the sun don’t shine. This starts off small and manageable, but soon mushrooms and becomes a fixation that damages Chip and those around him. Almost a decade later, Chip becomes the Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor of grizzled cop Russel (Tyler Rice), only to find his own addiction returning, with tragic consequences.
Reviewing Butt Boy is a little like trying to watch an ice hockey match or keep track of a Netflix true crime documentary. There’s so much going on that it’s difficult to focus on any of it. Cornack and Ryan Koch’s script is framed as something of a hard-boiled detective mystery, played as straight as an arrow even amid the absurdity and gross-out comedy inherent within the scatological premise. At the end of the day, this is nothing more sophisticated than a movie about a bloke putting loads of stuff up his arse, and it opens with a nudge-wink reference to someone having “worked their butt off” in order to participate in the “kicking butt” success of their employer.
Cornack and Rice are at the centre of this, with a pair of very straight performances as well-worn archetypes – the unfulfilled corporate minion and the hard-drinking cop. Cornack’s Chip even comments that Russel looks “like every detective ever” when they meet for the first time. Much of the second half of the narrative is anchored around Russel, with Rice delivering an admirable performance as a cop increasingly tortured by the fact that nobody believes the outlandish theory he knows to be true.
The problem is that, in leaning heavily into the idea of playing the premise straight, Butt Boy finds itself as even more of a one-joke movie than it already was. There’s not enough comic mileage in that initial idea to power an entire feature, but Cornack’s film doesn’t really offer anything up beyond that. The table is set early on for Chip’s unusual fixation to serve as an allegory for the dangers of addiction more generally, but that idea is never really followed through – disgusting pun entirely unintentional – once the true chaos of the third act rolls into view.
Fortunately, that third act is so packed with wacky creativity that it’s impossible not to be carried along by its commitment to madness. Cornack puts every penny of his reasonably low budget up on screen with some impressive design and effects work, culminating in a grotesque finale that should be treasured for its willingness to really push the envelope. If the thematic invention in Butt Boy even came close to the artistry in front of the camera, it’d be a movie well worth recommending.
Sadly, that flair is rather confined to brief, sporadic bursts – a scene set within a laser tag arena has neon-hued ingenuity to spare – in the midst of a movie that often drags, despite its offbeat central idea. There’s a distinct lack of meat on the bone throughout, meaning that the overriding feeling is one that an opportunity has been missed in expanding what probably should have been a very fun short film into a bloated and rather disappointing feature.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Tom Beasley is a freelance film journalist and wrestling fan. Follow him on Twitter via @TomJBeasley for movie opinions, wrestling stuff and puns.