Release: 2019 Directed by: Riley Stearns
So I saw The Art of Self-Defense. This did not get the same attention as, say, other films this weekend, but decided this would be worth my time over others. It’s Jessie Eisenberg learning karate, so what could go wrong? Well…
Nothing. This movie is just awesome. Our hero Casey (Jessie Eisenberg) is attacked by a gang of motorcyclists and feels weaker than he ever has been. He’s just an accountant for a firm who lives with his dog, he’s never tried to be something more. After trying to get a gun, he finds a local karate dojo and decides to look into it. He finds a wise and mysterious sensei (Alessandro Nivola) who teaches him the meaning of being masculine and the ways of violence. Casey slowly begins to learn more about being strong and what more his new home away from home has to offer.
This is easily one of the funniest “comedies” I’ve seen in quite some time. It also is one of the best structured movies, it has a great sense of “build up” then a satisfying pay off. There are very few plot points that are left dangling by the end, and I was wondering near the end how it could resolve itself but left me happy with the results. The humor is just great, the timing of the jokes are on point and at times just laughing way too hard. Most of the performances are also spot on, with Eisenberg being a major stand out here as his natural awkwardness and soft voice make it that much more enjoyable to see Casey become a badass by the end. But also just the plot moves so well and as you learn more you want to just see what could come next.
So what is this movies biggest problem? Predictability. After seeing as many movies as I have, you start to see the patterns connect fairly early on. It could detract from the end result of the film if you can guess what comes next, but it still is utterly enjoyable to watch. I believe that this film didn’t mind that aspect, when the story is as focused as this an audience could probably put 2 and 2 together, but seeing if you were right is almost just as fun as sitting in the theater to begin with. Also, and this goes without saying, this is rated R so get ready to be shocked by what characters can do with another’s body. Nothing graphic, just shocking. This is one of the rare times where I was pleasantly surprised that there wasn’t a love interest.
I think this is a great film to spend an evening with. It is just stupid funny, with an intriguing plot and great characters. I wouldn’t put it on any of my “best films of the year” yet, but it could be a contender depending on how the last half goes. So if you want to better yourself, become a real man, just grab the nearest metal CD and get a manly dog, probably something German.