It’s easy to hate Todd Solondz; indeed, there are moments when he practically begs for it. But to dismiss him, or Abe (Jordan Gelber), the thoroughly loathsome hero of Dark Horse, is to let them, and yourself, off easy. A font of entitlement and unearned self-confidence, Abe is a tubby, spoiled thirtysomething who lives with his parents and works (when he works) at his father’s business. He drives a bright yellow Hummer and stocks his bedroom with new-in-the-box action figures. He is, in short, a four-star asshole. But after daring us to despise him, Solondz flips the script, positing him as an underdog in a world filled with heartless high-achievers. Like Solondz’s Palindromes, Dark Horse splits in two, bringing Abe’s inner disappointments to physical life and taking the film in wholly unexpected directions, skewering both the protagonists of the manchild mini-genre and the film’s aesthetic bankruptcy. As is often the case with Solondz, the characters’ off-putting nature masks, and in some ways eases, the film’s more difficult challenges, but they’re all worth rising to.
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City Paper Grade: B+
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