I expect a lot of people to be angry about this review. I know my sixteen-year-old self would definitely not approve. I used to love this movie at sixteen, I thought it was a great movie. However, I've lived more of life and seen and understood more about the world since those days. I hadn't watched American History X since high school and thought it would be a movie to revisit. I was wrong.
During my watching experience I realized that aside from Edward Norton absolutely crushing it, the rest of the movie is almost like a cartoon. Ethan Suplee comes in and pulls out a black jelly bean and yeets it across the room only to pour the bowl down his throat. Edward Furlong turns in an essay about Mein Kampf and argues that Hitler did nothing wrong. This part honestly made me laugh because it's such an edgy boy thing to do. Posting on 4chan "guys, I turned in my essay on how Hitler did nothing wrong and now I have to take a new class. lol."
Then when the white supremacist gang attacks the grocery store, it just felt comedic. I remember watching this movie with friends and they would always laugh at this scene for being so over the top and ending with Ethan Suplee stealing a cheeseburger. I know I'm really picking on Ethan Suplee, and I think he's a good comedic actor, he just doesn't work well in this.
Then there's Fairuza Balk, whom I love in almost any other movie. Was she told "just be crazy and scream out slurs, it'll be funny"? Her performance is just so outlandish that it feels like she's in a completely different movie all together.
Then there are the speeches. Every time someone says something "racist" they always state their opinions very reasonably. "I dislike affirmative action because they picked two guys based on their skin color instead of the two guys more qualified for the job. I put my life on the line every day and I'm concerned about who's watching my ass." You know what, dad from Boy Meets World, you've got a good point there. I understand.
Then the dad from Boy Meets World says the N word.
As I said, Norton knocks it out of the park with this movie. I don't care how obvious Oscar-bait this performance was, he did a good job. I've read numerous things about how he didn't see eye-to-eye with Tony Kaye, and perhaps that's to the film's benefit. If you know anything about this film and the troubled production caused by Tony Kaye, you begin wondering if the film is so cartoonish not because of David McKenna, but because Tony Kaye thought it would be funny.
Then again, McKenna is the same guy who brought us the cartoonish Bully, so maybe it was a joint effort.
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