×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mangus!

"Mangus!" recalls the outrageous trailer-trash scenarios of seminal '70s works by John Waters (who duly makes a cameo appearance).

With:
With: Ryan Boggus, Heather Matarazzo, Jennifer Coolidge, Leslie Jordan, Peter S. Williams, Deborah Theaker, Charles Solomon Jr., Leticia Magana, John Montoya, Laura Spencer, Zander Scott, John Waters.

Writer-director-producer Ash Christian made an uneven but frequently funny feature debut with 2006’s “Fat Girl,” a “Napoleon Dynamite”-esque teen comedy about a misfit gay boy turning his social-lemon status into lemonade. Sophomore effort “Mangus!” ups the bad-taste stakes further, recalling the outrageous trailer-trash scenarios of seminal ’70s works by John Waters (who duly makes a cameo appearance). But this time the results strain for laughs more often than they achieve them, despite a colorful look and expert comic talents like Jennifer Coolidge and Leslie Jordan. Pic should find an audience in niche home-format exposure, but theatrical prospects are slight.

Mangus Spedgewick (Ryan Boggus) has one goal in life: to play the titular figure in “Jesus Christ Spectacular,” his Texas high school’s admitted “poor man’s version of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,'” thus following in the footsteps of a dad and grandpa who also essayed the role onstage. Mangus has the chops and enthusiasm to spare. Upon winning the coveted part, however, he and friends celebrate with a drunken limo ride that ends in tragedy. Now paralyzed from the waist down, Mangus still expects to play J.C. until the mayor’s scheming wife convinces school officials it would be blasphemous to have a “cripple Jesus,” thus allowing her son Farrell (John Montoya) to usurp the lead.

Popular on Variety

Adding to Mangus’ woes, his understanding pa (Charles Solomon Jr.) ships out to Iraq for another military service stint, leaving the teen in charge of nasty stepmom Raquel (Deborah Theaker). She promptly dumps him on the doorstep of his divorced mom, Cookie (Coolidge), a “hair artiste” living with much younger beau Buddy (Peter S. Williams) as well as Mangus’ antagonistic older sibling, Jessica (Heather Matarazzo).

Bent on getting his dream role back, Mangus enlists Jessica to help scare Farrell, a plan that goes so awry the two are forced to go on the lam to Hollywood — although their Greyhound’s destination ends up being Hollywood, Fla., “dinner-theater capital of the world.” This detour just briefly delays the climactic “Jesus Christ Spectacular” opening, which — like too much of “Mangus!” — sounds hilariously promising in concept yet delivers just mild amusement in execution.

Christian’s humor is nothing if not broad (the local radio station is “WKKK”), but while pic manages to stay good-natured despite all the caricatures and cruel twists of fate, it lacks the extra dose of inspiration that might have rendered its crass comedy liberating rather than just effortful. Some performers do manage to goose the material from time to time, notably daffy Coolidge, Jordan as the flighty drama instructor, Williams’ genially brain-dead stud, and Montoya as a twink who insists he’s straight despite being the flamingest critter in the Lone Star State.

Tech package is decent on a budget; design contributions aim for a low-rent gaudiness that suits characters who’d be quite at home on “The Jerry Springer Show.”

Mangus!

Production: A Cranium Entertainment production in association with Filmgate Films and Film i Vast. Produced by Ash Christian, Heather Matarazzo, Simon Millar. Co-producers, Melissa Doyle Raymond Carter Cantrell, Sean Wheelan, Filmgate Films, Film i Vast. Executive producers, Rex Cumming, Michelle Levy, Trammell S. Crow, Charles Solomon Jr., Ruth Mutch, Lisa G. Black, Tom Whelan, Anne Clements, Julie Ehret. Directed, written by Ash Christian.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Lyn Moncrief; editor, Scott D. Martin; music, John Dufiho, Scott Murphy, Caroline Murphy; music supervisor, Suzanne Hilleary; production designer, Ryan Smith; art director, Melody Beth; costume designer, Ryan Matthieu Smith; sound, Karlo Montano; sound designer, David Rosenblad; supervising sound editor, David Rosenblad; assistant director, Brent Duncan; casting, Toni Cobb Brock, Sally Allen. Reviewed at Frameline (U.S. Features), San Francisco, June 25, 2011. (Also in Outfest, NewFest.) Running time: 88 MIN.

With: With: Ryan Boggus, Heather Matarazzo, Jennifer Coolidge, Leslie Jordan, Peter S. Williams, Deborah Theaker, Charles Solomon Jr., Leticia Magana, John Montoya, Laura Spencer, Zander Scott, John Waters.

More Film

  • Legion M Launches Film Scout Mobile

    Film News Roundup: Legion M Launches Film Scout Mobile App at Sundance

    In today’s film news roundup, Legion M is launching its Film Scout mobile app, the first round of Oscar presenters are unveiled, Verve is expanding its book-to-screen business, “Gladiator” producer David Franzoni boards an American Indian project, and XYZ announces promotions. SUNDANCE LAUNCH Fan-owned Legion M is launching its Film Scout mobile app at this [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    APA Reaches Deal With Writers Guild of America

    APA has reached a deal with the Writers Guild of America, ending a nine-month standoff over allowing the agency to represent guild members. The full-service agency made the announcement Tuesday, four days after the Gersh agency signed a similar deal with the WGA. It’s the sixth mid-size agency to accede to the WGA’s bans on [...]

  • UTA Sundance

    UTA Marketing Ups Sundance Game With Private Residence, Programming

    Talent agency hospitality is a mainstay at the Sundance film Festival, be it in swanky lounges on Park City’s Main Street or private chalets in nearby Deer Valley. United Talent Agency, whose talent roster and independent film group always come in force each year, typically throws a brunch for friends and press — but will [...]

  • Joel Silver

    Silver Pictures Settles with Family of Assistant Who Died on Bora Bora Trip

    Silver Pictures has reached a confidential settlement with the family of Carmel Musgrove, the assistant to Joel Silver who was found dead in a Bora Bora lagoon in 2015. Musgrove’s family filed a wrongful death suit in 2017, alleging that she had been overworked and furnished with drugs and alcohol during the trip. The family [...]

  • David O. Russell

    David O. Russell Looks at 'Three Kings' 20 Years Later

    When David O. Russell made “Three Kings” in 1999, it was one of the most definitive films on the Gulf War. At the time, the director had worked on shorts “Hairway to the Stars” and “Bingo Inferno: A Parody on American Obsessions.” He had also worked on features “Spanking the Monkey” and “Flirting with Disaster.” [...]

  • Metoo Sundance The Glorias Zola On

    #MeToo Issues Continue to Make an Impact on Sundance Films

    If there were any doubts that the impact of sexual-harassment exposés­­ and backlash against them had died down, Oprah Winfrey put them to rest when she withdrew her name (and Apple’s distribution) from “On The Record,” a film about allegations against music execs Russell Simmons and L.A. Reid — just two weeks before its Sundance Film Festival premiere. Variety reached out to Winfrey and the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content