Life is undeniably random. We live in a world where control plays jester to king chaos. Is it pointless? Who knows. Is it stupid? Sometimes it is, and that’s just the point (if there is any) to Caleb Emerson’s masterfully zany Frankie in Blunderland. Based on a script by Marta Estirado, Blunderland is an eccentric combination of modern LA hipster lore and literary nonsense ala Carroll or Seuss. In short, its brilliant! Emerson brings just the right level of Lynchian imagery, Troma-esque satire, and bizzaro charm to a script that is an obvious, yet so not obvious at all homage to Alice in Wonderland.
How do I describe Frankie in Blunderland? It’s kind of like describing socks to a person with no feet; its just pointless. This is a movie to behold. Its certainly not for everyone, but for those like myself, with a love for the surreal and whimsically edgy, it’s a strange trip to an alternately odd version of LaLa Land. I’ll use Alice in Wonderland as a basis for comparison. Wonderland is LA of course, and Alice is nowhere to be found. Frankie is the driving force of the day in Blunderland, a day that challenges him to look at his possessions, his friends, and his existence and decide if its all worth it. His brash and trashy wife Katie and best friend Spioch undermine and tear Frankie apart every chance they get. Pissed off yet still in whipped compliance, he stumbles off into the day, getting lost in the strange wilderness of post-psychedelic Los Angeles.
There is no LSD blotter here. Frankie’s surreal day of wacko interactions comes from nothing more than a self realization that “today is stupid,” and life may in fact be pointlessly eccentric. Aside from his maniacally crazed friend Spioch and controlling shrew of a wife, Frankie encounters a huge cast of social misfits from fantasy worlds, and otherworldly planets. There’s Freddy the Holy Hobo, the Cheshire Cat of the story who guides Frankie in the circles of his day. Then there’s a very naked and very well endowed little fairy man with blue wings played by porn star Evan Stone, a moronic and polygamy obsessed space alien, a creepy malformed bastard puppet, and a lesbian robot among others. And we can’t forget scream queen mistress Debbie Rochon in a small yet eloquent role as a poetically repetitive spider who is no doubt an homage to the caterpillar from Wonderland. Rochon’s role, thou small, is a wonderfully charming bit of acting that really stands out in the film.
Emerson is great at these kinds of bizarre antics on screen. In his first feature, the excellent Die You Zombie Bastards, he managed to make the anti-zombie flick that was and remains to this day a film like no other. Emerson has a strange sense of humor, and its with this strangeness that he’s able to pull some fittingly unusual performances out of his casts. The acting in Blunderland is similarly atypical, as the characters are meant to be overtly spacey. Thea Martin who plays Frankie’s wife Katie is a dead ringer for Juliette Lewis with the sassy “could-give-a-fuck“ persona down to a T. Emerson himself reprises his role as the slow and charming Peanutch the cop from Die You Zombie Bastards. Outside of the great visuals, the original score by Brian Lieb is so perfectly suited to the film, with its wildly-winding Theremin setting the off-kilter tone of the entire film.
Frankie in Blunderland is a master class in the absurd. I said before, its impossible to describe this movie, but again, what’s the point in trying. I think that is the point after all, to show just how random and strange life can truly be and realize that resistance is futile. If you like surreal and truly original, slightly offensive movies with a true indie budget and truly indie sentiment, than resistance to Frankie in Blunderland is also futile.