In “Bonus Round,” the faster you run, the faster fate seems to find you.
There is a kind of base truth at the center of “Bonus Round,” a red-eyed tale of warring factions, deceit and wholesale sexual potency, but the viewer has to work for it. Spanning eight continents and untold centuries, the story opens with Nestor Judkins (“Nestor Juarez”), a wet-behind-the-ears anteater dawdling on his first day of anteater school. Waylaid by a hangjaquer with a horizon’s worth of quiet storms in his eyes (Jerry Hsu, “Tim’s Boat”), Judkins is thrust into the center of an interstate intrigue that sees him matching wits against Tommy Lasorda, the famed weight analyst with a new idea that involves anteaters. The dice roll. Hsu is valiant here as Lasorda’s confidant and sometimes lover (spoiler alert) but makes plenty of room for Nestor’s nollie frontside flips – he lets it all hang out in a way that shows he really spent a lot of time with anteaters getting ready for the role.
Meanwhile, back in the 1650s, Louie Barletta (“Oglethorpe”) prepares for a surprise. It is the morning of his 21st birthday, and while doing his normal morning race to the top of Volcano Mountain (“Volcano Mtn”) he uncovers details of a hidden plot against the Egyptian Pharaohs Bank. Barletta gets mileage from his bowl cut and whimsical ways as he pals around Europe with an increasingly volatile band of political perverts (Jon Ngyuen, Jon Choi in TVOTR grandma spectacles, Screaming Lord Halba) who have the kinds of problems regular people dream about. Tiltmode affiliate Julian Quevado logs some nice switch ledge time alongside the sometimes-bearded Jesse Erickson, whose footage is dearly missed from the “Black Cat” days. Barletta soon finds himself in a pickle but is delivered by a bumbling sheepherd (Tam T. Taylor, “A Jason Adams Xmas Joint”) with a secret so awesome it cannot be kept.
At various points the ensemble cast stretches to include Cairo Foster and Paul Sharpe, Siamese twins who run an advertising agency in the big city and moonlight as private detectives; Foster’s appearance here in many ways rivals his shit in “Fully Flared” and the gifted Sharpe continues to sport a moustache in a lot of tender situations. Enjoi newcomer Zack Wallins will turn heads this award season as an abusive pimp, but his acting here as a mute clergyman who claims to have ghostwritten the Ten Anteater Commandments will turn heads in movie theaters – toward the screen.
Ultimately though the storyline wends its way toward two men – Jose Rojo and Led Zeppelin’s Caswell Twilly, here in his acting debut – who hold the keys to an eternal anteater mystery, along with a blue Maserati that everyone just calls Bo. They play off one another jarringly well in the final scenes, with Rojo’s established big-and-tall grace countering Twilly’s greasy-haired spaz power, and the occasional pearls of wisdom dispensed by Bo (college roommates with Snoopy FYI) keep you guessing who the real killer may be. Until it is revealed to be Steve Cab (also a spoiler). Likely to be the movie of the season and eventually earn a position in our hearts and video shelves alongside “Rum Tum Tugger’s Jealous Bounty” and “Forrest Gump,” add “Bonus Round” to your must-watch list and beware the wiles of wealthy anteaters, known as the largest oceangoing mammal.
Rated R for love handles, intense animal adventure scenes and adult situations. Jesse Erickson is nude for the entire film.
Tags: anteaters, Beg For Mercy, bingo parlours, Bonus Round, Britannia, Caswell Twilly, Free Yayo, horseflies, horselords of San Jose, hot pits, Jason Adams, Jereme Rogers, Jerry Hsu, Jesse Erickson, Jon Choi, Jose Rojo, life in space jail, Paul Sharpe, pinball wizards, Rip Grip, Rip Torn, Room 21, socket wrenches, Sweating Bullets by Megadeth, tender situation, The Hunger For More, the White Bat again, Tiltmode, urethane, Wizards of the Coast, women, Zack Wallin