"Total Badass" succeeds in making spectacle of a talented man's self-destruction seem tedious.
A portrait of sometime punk rocker, writer, publisher, and cokehead Chad Holt, “Total Badass,” from Austin-based underground filmmaker Bob Ray, succeeds in making the spectacle of a talented, highly intelligent man’s self-destruction seem tedious. Holt’s autobiographical ramblings, growing unintelligible as he indiscriminately ingests the contents of the nearest medicine cabinet, generally constitutes the pic’s soundtrack; when Ray periodically turns filming duties over to his subject, only the aspect ratio changes. A case study in the limitations of raw, “Cops”-style footage (albeit from a most un-cop-like point of view), “Badass” opens Nov. 19 at Gotham’s ReRun Gastropub Theater.
If viewers aren’t shocked by time-compressed, jump-cut montages of Holt throwing himself off the stage into a garbage can or shoving coke up his nose, his blackface video, a last-ditch attempt to save his band, proves a jaw-dropper. Unlike other films in which the hero’s penis size figures prominently (it gives Holt’s friend nightmares of anacondas), “Total Badass” offers glimpses of the legendary appendage in various stages of use. Scenes of youthful rebellion that degenerate into self-parody, like extended YouTube meltdowns, will probably prove most amusing to the young.