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Movie Review: 'Reverse the Curse' Starring David Duchovny

David Duchovny wants to create a new Archie Bunker but fails to understand why Archie was funny in Reverse the Curse.

By Sean PatrickPublished about a month ago 4 min read

Reverse the Curse (2024)

Directed by David Duchovny

Written by David Duchovny

Starring Logan Marshall Green, Stephanie Beatriz, David Duchovny, Pamela Adlon

Release Date June 14th, 2024

Published June 13th, 2024

Reverse the Curse stars Logan Marshall Green as Ted, a failing writer. It's 1978 and Ted is working as a peanut vendor at Yankee Stadium for little pay and less respect. He wants to write the great American novel but, he's told by a publisher, played by Pamela Adlon, that his story doesn't have a plot and that he lacks life experience to draw from. She advises him to go commit a crime, get f##### in the a## prison, and come back when he has a story to tell.

That this line of thinking comes from the mouth of Pamela Adlon, a skilled wordsmith when it comes to the profane, is the only reason this dialogue works. My point will be proven in the rest of the movie where profanity appears and is poorly used. Being profane is a skill and Adlon is a skilled proprietor. The rest of the cast of Reverse the Curse lacks her talent for the irreverent and filthy. They are amateurs compared to Adlon who could give sailors and truck drivers a good talking too.

Sadly, Adlon is just a brief supporting player in this story where the story of the Boston Red Sox curse in 1978 provides a background to a troubled relationship between a failure of a son and a father dying of cancer. Logan Marshall Green's Ted is the failed son. Writer-director David Duchovny is the dying dad. If you think that being on death's door is going to make Duchovny dignified or reflective, you are wrong. Rather, Duchovny's Marty is merely a knockoff of more interesting degenerates from television's past like William H. Macy on Shameless, minus anything funny to say. This amalgamation of edgy characters just happens to be dying of cancer.

Shameless is a good comparison for Reverse the Curse but where that show had at least a few moments of genuine pathos, and a much stronger hit to miss ratio of dark laughs, Reverse the Curse is the kind of movie that mistakes saying ugly, racist and callous things is funny just because they are ugly racist, and callous. The word 'Fuck' simply said is not funny. But when it is used right, with timing and effort, it can be a one word punchline. Reverse the Curse is the kind of movie that assumes a word is funny simply for being said.

The manufactured and curated edginess of Reverse the Curse feels like David Duchovny's desperate attempt to cast himself as Archie Bunker, a crotchety old crank who says racist and sexist things, insults everyone around him and assumes that his irreverence is funny just because it is irreverent. I can assure you, dear reader, Duchovny is wrong. Simply using a racial epithet as Duchovny does, early in the film, referring to a character who is, perhaps his closest ally, is not funny. It's not given any weight, it's just needless cruelty.

Duchovny then scripts Stephanie Beatriz, the actress on the receiving end of his racist name-calling, to justify his racism. After Green's Ted calls his father out for being a racist, Beatriz let's Duchovny off the hook by saying she understands the epithet as a term of endearment. The tone deafness of a white male writer-director having his actress make his character's racist remark okay is not surprising, just a bit disappointing from an actor who has been around long enough to know better.

Reverse the Curse wants so badly to be edgy but it only feels derivative and desperate. At one point, Duchovny lifts a joke from the late great and genuinely edgy comic Bill Hicks. Duchovny only understands the lyrics, he doesn't understand the music of comedy, the timing, the context and precision. When Bill Hicks jokes that he can't get cancer from smoking because the packs he smoked were the ones that warned against smoking while pregnant and not the ones that say lung cancer, it's part of a larger point about his own comic denial of his own mortality. When Duchovny does that joke, it's just him regurgitating something someone funny once said.

That's the essence of Reverse the Curse. A movie without any sense of its own identity. The film is desperate, sad, and derivative. Duchovny's performance is a lazy attempt to channel various edgy personas that other actors perfected. William H. Macy's Shameless scumbag, Danny Devito's unpredictable Frank from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Caroll O'Connor's iconic Archie Bunker. But just assembling the pieces of those characters to create a character of your own is not inherently funny. In fact, it completely misses what makes those characters funny. If Reverse the Curse teaches us anything it should be that we should be watching Shameless, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia or All in the Family. Or, maybe listen to an actual Bill Hicks stand up set so you can hear his material delivered perfectly and not by someone desperately trying to be edgy.

Find my archive of more than 20 years and more than 2000 movie reviews at Find my modern review archive on my Vocal Profiile, linked here. Follow me on Twitter at PodcastSean. Follow the archive blog on Twitter at SeanattheMovies. Listen to me talk about movies on the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast. If you have enjoyed what you have read, consider subscribing to my writing on Vocal. If you'd like to support my writing, you can do so by making a monthly pledge or by leaving a one time tip. Thanks!


About the Creator

Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast I am a voting member of the Critics Choice Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

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