1. I challenge you to find one sincere moment in "Hobo With A Shotgun." One moment, one frame, where the movie isn't just dicking around. "But that is the point!" you shout. "This is an homage to old grindhouse movies!" Yeah, I got that: The old grindhouse-style opening credit sequence, with its balloon letters and complete listings, made that clear. But here's the thing: An homage involves bringing something new to previously existing material, a representation of inspiration, a starting point, not a landing pad. Quentin Tarantino takes grindhouse material and makes it his own. "Hobo With A Shotgun" just wants to make a grindhouse movie, and then sit back and giggle. Don't you get it? This is the ULTIMATE grindhouse movie! Look at that title! Yes, yes, yes; I understood it from the get-go. Please stop jabbing me in the ribs every five seconds. This is a movie that jabs you in the ribs every five seconds.
2. Oh, is this movie ever proud of itself. It screams its smug self-satisfaction from the title itself, an in-joke for people who always make sure they're the first ones in on the most obvious joke. The film's idea sprung from a fake trailer, and its minimalism -- that's what the movie is about! A hobo with a shotgun! -- is supposed to be part of its "charm." You get what you pay for! (The movie giddily makes certain that its title is indeed a line of dialogue.) Thus, the film stands outside itself, and the rest of us, content that it's criticism-proof. If you don't give into it, you're not in on the joke. n00b!
3. Nothing in this movie happens without a snigger. The hobo -- played by Rutger Hauer, with a perpetual "this is what the kids want these days? Well, all right then" look on his face throughout -- strolls into a crime-ridden city and just wants to save up enough money to buy a lawn mower. How ironic, considering he doesn't have a lawn! Ho, ho. The whole movie's like that. It's ludicrously violent, but not in a creative or inventive way: It's just gore and sadism tossed out without discretion, both mocking and celebrating, just throwing guts and blood against the wall and expecting to be congratulated for it. The hobo meets up and defends a prostitute, who of course has a heart of gold and just wants to get out of this godforsaken town, and the filmmakers know this is a joke plot too so just run with it because hey we're not really trying! Get it!
4. You might consider this all harmless fun and games, and I'm probably coming off as a bit of a prig. (This is the type of movie whose defenders always consider naysayers prigs.) But, for the life of me, I keep trying to figure out when exactly, as one of our main villains takes a flamethrower to a bus full of school children, and we hear their screams, and he grins maniacally ... when am I supposed to laugh again? Am I missing the punch line? There's a calculated nihilism here that isn't all the different from the crazed scribblings of a disturbed pre-pubescent; this movie has a vacancy behind the eyes. But it's all a joke. Ha ha.
5. Is there a good movie somewhere inside "Hobo With A Shotgun?" Lemme think. Maybe you could make the film's subtext about the financial crisis, about a man who had been downsized once too often, who had lost his retirement savings or something, and decided to strike back. But I am a sucker for even thinking this hard about it. This is a sadistic little poison pill of a movie that keeps yuk-yuking because it, like all good sadists, actually thinks it's cool. Sorry: I just don't find scenes of homeless people hanging naked upside down while being beaten by naked women cool, or funny, or interesting, or fit to be consumed by polite society. But it's all a joke! Gag me. To borrow a phrase from my friend Tommy Craggs, "Hobo With A Shotgun" farts in a room, slams the door and claims it's just trying to have a little fun. This is the type of movie you want to punch in the face.