Available on Blu-ray from Shout Factory and coming soon streaming on Shudder!
IDLE HANDS (1999)
Directed by Rodman Flender
Written by Terri Hughes and Ron Milbauer
Starring Devon Sawa, Jessica Alba, Seth Green, Eldon Henson, Vivica A. Fox, Jack Noseworthy
Oh, take a trip back with me to a time when music was played on MTV. Before texting and iPhones. Back when the term “slacker” was just introduced into the world’s vocabulary. IDLE HANDS is not a perfect film by a long shot, but with a talented cast and a concept that borrows heavily from numerous iconic films, it proves to be a snapshot of its time and turns out to be a lot of fun too.
Anton (CHUCKY’s Devon Sawa) is your typical slacker. He sits on the couch eating crap food, smoking pot, and watching MTV. Basically, Anton was all of us if you were young in 1999. Devon Sawa plays the role decently and convincingly, as do his equally lazy friends, Mick and Pnub (played by ROBOT CHICKEN’s Seth Green and DAREDEVIL’s Elden Henson). Though made long before SHAUN OF THE DEAD, there are a lot of similarities at play here as our oblivious trio of stoners don’t even know until the last minute that a murderer is on the loose. In fact, in the first five minutes of the film Anton’s parents (which include the always funny Fred Willard [RIP…so sad], a talent wasted in this film) are killed by the serial murderer and it takes Anton almost two days to figure out that they are missing (and after he does, almost two minutes to get over their loss). Soon it’s revealed that there’s not a murderer on the loose, but a possession, as an age-old entity possesses Anton’s hand and, unbeknownst to him, forces him to kill.
IDLE HANDS borrows heavily from Bruce Campbell’s slapstick possessed hand routine from EVIL DEAD II, and later from the Oliver Stone and Michael Caine classic THE HAND, as Anton fights his own hand, severs it, then spends the rest of the movie trying to find it before it murders someone else. Fans of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON will also rejoice as the concept of the hand’s victims returning to life to haunt the murderer is replayed with Green and Henson doing their best to provide comic relief as the undead who are still as lazy as they were when they were alive.
Though the plot contains holes you could drive a truck through, IDLE HANDS has a fun and somewhat charming cautionary message of the dangers of being a slacker and clumsily stumbles onto the psychological delusion of “good hand/bad hand” usually referring to guilt and masturbation. Beyond all of that, there are quite a few fun moments of slapstick and gross-out humor and some heartwarming references to how music videos used to be such a huge part of our culture. Plus you get to see some gratuitous T&A, a ton of potty humor, and the Offspring lead singer Dexter Holland gets his scalp ripped off. And expect a nostalgic blast from the past when Jack “Dead at 21” Noseworthy makes an appearance. All this and Jessica Alba’s toight pa-toot and you’ve got a winner on your…uhm…hands.
Hands down…(I had to do it) if you’re looking for doofy Halloween fun, IDLE HANDS is it.