What if I told you that there was a film that took equal halves of Jackass: The Movie and “Faces of Death” and combined them into one cinematic experience? First, you’d probably want to know how such a reprehensible thing could ever exist and then go see if it’s available at Best Buy. What images would such an esoteric video conjure up? To ease your mind, let me be a little bit more precise. What if a movie took the most asinine stunts of “Jackass” and staged them with the same credibility as a “Faces of Death” alligator mauling? You’d end up with “Bar Fighter”. The film rabidly proclaims that ‘Hollywood is bullshit’ and positions itself as a brutally honest alternative to Tinseltown’s phoniness. If by bullshit, they mean fiction, then they have a lot more in common with the typical Hollywood product than the makers wish to acknowledge.
The movie follows one Jack Moser, an aspiring actor who is sick of being just another face in the crowd. But he’s hit upon an ingenious scheme that’s sure to launch him to the top of Hollywood’s A-List heap. If Jack goes from bar to bar, picks a fight with some lush, and videotapes the beating, everyone’s bound to watch. Hell, he doesn’t even have to win, just as long as a fight takes place. His cute girlfriend Nicole is there to offer moral support. When she’s not playing the loving girlfriend (she an actress, too), she puts out some trampy vibes to lure unsuspecting boozers into Jack’s clutches. What a girl! Jack is later joined by his buddy Peter, another aspiring actor whose diminutive stature perfectly suits his dwarf-tossing gig at one of the local bars. Peter’s a real plus to the production; he has a special talent that he displays repeatedly throughout the film. As he puts it, Peter has the ability to ‘piss on command’. I suppose if you’re ninety-eight years old and incontinent, this would be something to stop the presses over, otherwise, he’s doing the same trick that every other healthy person has taught themselves to do. Jack continues to fight all manner of barflies, whether it’s the angry guy he unwisely turns his back on or the Asian fellow, who may have been singled out in the hopes that he would actually be a ninja of some skill (sadly that is not the case). In between the fights, Jack and his crew engage in a little “Girls Gone Wild” action, paying considerable attention to a hammered lesbian named Raelyn. Despite having supposedly never met the crew before, Raelyn seems to remember a lot of new names for a girl lost in the deep recesses of a drunken stupor. The production apparently adopts Raelyn at some point between set ups because from then on out, she’s always at their house doing something wacky and off the wall, like singing or making out with Nicole. Jack gets beat up some more, wins a few fights, almost loses Nicole, etc. By the end, no one’s been discovered and you’re all the more grateful for it.
Early on, Nicole comments, “I just thought you guys were going to be smart about the whole thing?” Smart? Hey beautiful, smart took off a long time ago and left his only set of keys with stupidity. Who were they trying to fool into thinking this wasn’t staged? If Vince McMahon could barely keep up his charade, do you think these guys have any chance? They start off by getting thrown out of a boxing gym for soliciting fights without headgear and gloves. The owner doesn’t want any part of it and he’s one of the few people not asked to sign a release form. Explain to me then how they manage to keep a shot of the gym’s logo in the film when there are other scenes where so much background filler is smudged out, the screen looks like it’s covered in Vaseline? If it’s not a plug, then I don’t know what it is. Peter relieves himself on a bible that he buys at what’s supposed to be a Christian bookstore, but by looking at it, you’d think it was a back alley abortion clinic. And those fight scenes don’t sell this film one damn bit. Too many fights start off with Jack’s dwarf peeing on some guy’s leg, a measly fight breaks out, then they all get together to sign a release form and smoke the peace pipe. None of this feels remotely real. Take for example when Jack lets Peter throw darts at him from six feet away (don’t ask, that’s just what happens). Do I have to tell you wear it lands? The dart that Peter throws is obviously not the one that connects with Jack’s nether region, so it’s no surprise that the look on his face is nothing more than a bewildered daze, like a fly just buzzed by his ear and he’s wondering where the sound is coming from. I’m not even going to get into the scene where Jack has his front teeth knocked out and then magically gets caps to resemble his old crooked teeth. These people are the polar opposites of the ones presented in “American Movie”, a funnier and more engaging documentary about low budget filmmaking and the struggles to make your own success. There, you had Mark Borchardt and his gang doing the most ridiculous things to finish their short film, yet there was a sincere passion to make an honest movie. At the end of the day, that’s exactly what they accomplished. The guys in “Bar Fighter” just smelt the stench of easy money in the exploitation market and couldn’t even make it funny along the way. On the bright side, Jack has a slight resemblance to Hayden Christensen, so if you use your imagination, you can get an idea of what it would look like if Anakin Skywalker had his ass handed to him at the Mos Eisley cantina.
So, is getting your face split open a good way to break into show business? There’s a story about a young actor who got into a barroom brawl the day before he was scheduled to meet with the director of a low budget action flick. His face was bruised and cut, so he didn’t think he had much of a chance of getting a role. When he arrived at the audition, the injuries apparently toughened up his pretty boy face enough so that he was awarded the lead in the film. That may or may not be a true account of how Mel Gibson won the title role in “Mad Max”, but even if it were accurate, would it be worth taking that kind of a risk? How far do you think any young actor is going to get at the WB casting offices when his face is being held together with sutures and wishful thinking?
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