Chip Gutchell feels dead inside. An office IT drone who goes through the motions with his wife, he seems sapped of joy until one day at a scheduled prostate exam, he discovers he likes things stuck up his butt. He starts out innocently enough, inserting small objects, but when larger, breathing things go missing in the community, in steps hard-living Detective Fox, who also happens to be sponsored by Chip at their local AA chapter. Sounds like the makings of a great John Waters movie, eh? You’d be wrong. Butt Boy, the debut feature of Tyler Cornack, who stars as Chip, directs from a script he co-wrote with Ryan Koch, plays things, to its credit, with immense seriousness. What could have easily been a silly, gross-out comedy, instead presents itself as a hard look at toxic masculinity and addiction.
The film would make for a great double feature with this year’s Swallow, which takes an equally sobering look at a woman who ingests foreign objects. Taken together, these films shine a light on the stark differences between how men and women see themselves in the world. Whereas Swallow’s Hunter eats thumbtacks and screws as a way to exert control over her suffocating marriage, Butt Boy’s Chip does it for the sheer pleasure of it all and because he really doesn’t care about anybody but himself.
The film gets credit for maintaining a consistent tone throughout, even when things go off the rails in the third act. Cinematographer William Morean frames things beautifully in the first act, always aware of Chip’s complete remove from the outside world. When Detective Fox (a fantastic Tyler Rice) enters the film with his backstory of pain and loss, the look changes to that of an 80s exploitation cop film, filled with smoke, headlight glares and saturated colors. Add to that the insane final sequence and you have an incredibly satisfying cinematic experience. For such a low budget film, you’ll really believe the visceral jolt of its climactic setting. It’s grotesque yet powerful.
Cornack and Koch also wrote the pulsating synth-head score, which really layers on that 80s vibe. Except for a bad pun or two, the characters never wink at the audience to let us know they’re in on the joke. In fact, Butt Boy is no joke at all. It’s about a large segment of our population who enjoy chewing people up and spitting them out while completely discounting their humanity.
The Chip Gutchells of the world are monsters dressed in khakis and chambray shirts. Cornack plays Chip with one deadpan note, yet it doesn’t get old because he knows that a guy who can get away with anything he wants wouldn’t really have to spend much energy on things like empathy or kindness. He’s a living id with a huge ego yet completely devoid of a super-ego. Sound like any elected officials you know?
Glenn Gaylord’s 50 SHADES OF GAY SCALE: Butt Boy gets a 0 out of 50. Don’t let the title fool you. This one plays it…ahem…straight.
By Glenn Gaylord, Senior Film Critic
Butt Boy is available on Blu-ray and to rent or buy on VOD platforms now.