It should go without saying, The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot, written and directed by Robert D. Krzykowski, is an unusual movie and only for the most obvious reason. Aside from a little rock ‘n’ roll, an early ass-whoopin,’ and the time Bigfoot projectile vomits pumpkin soup, you couldn’t classify this as a midnight movie. True, the writing is consistently elbowing you with blatant metaphors, but there’s a surprising dedication to the first of the proper nouns in its title, especially given the presence of the other two.
Dedication is one thing, but does Krzykowski’s script pull off its attempt to nestle a character piece into an overarching plot filled with shenanigans? The answer is an assured “no.” As already mentioned, the dialogue holds your hand so much that it becomes uncomfortable and quick. Flashbacks are liberally employed, yet serve no worthwhile purpose, other than to spell out events that are better left to suggestion. Additionally, the flashbacks take us away from the movie’s primary selling point and not-so-secret weapon: Sam Elliott.
“You believe that he secretly killed Hitler and you believe that he will—after some nudging—kill the Bigfoot.”
His performance here might go down as one of his best, if only because he’s able to make the events around him and the absurdities coming out of his mouth seem not only reasonable but dire and naturally true. To find an equal in Elliott’s ability to exhibit conviction and quiet authority, you’d have to dig into the archives and pull out a Bogart or a Ben Johnson.
Take, for instance, the line, “I don’t want to kill anymore, be it beast or man,” referring to an offer by the government to execute the Bigfoot, who is carrying a disease that has already wiped out an entire population of Canadian wildlife. Even with that line and the context surrounding it, Sam Elliott sells it as Calvin. You believe him. You believe that he secretly killed Hitler and you believe that he will—after some nudging—kill the Bigfoot. As far as certainties go, it’s right up there with death and taxes.
Calvin agrees to hunt down the Bigfoot, he’s escorted in one of those rooms that has an entire wall lined with weaponry—everything from knives to machine guns. He takes one look and says, “That gun. That scope. That knife. That’s it.” And you believe that, too.
“…the movie’s primary selling point and not-so-secret weapon: Sam Elliott.”
Aside from the legitimacy that Elliott lends to the movie, there’s also something inarguably amusing in watching him play his part so straight. When first informed of the Bigfoot’s existence, there’s no smirk or wry squint, but concern. When recounting his assassination of Hitler, he doesn’t get worked up or indulge in every detail. He tells it like it is as if it was any other war story that he’d rather keep to himself.
Krzykowski deserves some credit for this restraint, as I assume it was written into the script, given the type of character Calvin is. A lesser man might announce that he was the one who killed Hitler, then ride his fame to a book deal and the illustrious field of cable news punditry. But not Calvin. He’s the kind of guy who finds a winning lottery ticket and returns it to the gas station where it was bought, just in case the owner comes looking for it.
The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot isn’t the loony chuckle-fest that many might want and it’s not as affecting a character piece as Krzykowski might want, but it’s a crackpot showcase for a performer who deserves one or two, crackpot or otherwise.
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot (2019) Written and Directed by Robert D. Krzykowski. Starring Sam Elliott, Aidan Turner, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Rizwan Manji, Larry Miller, Ron Livingston.
6 out of 10 stars