SXSW Review: The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter

Danny McBride and Jody Hill are a comedy powerhouse team that have been creating creating comedy cult hits like the film The Foot-Fist Way to HBO’s series “Eastbound and Down.” They create obscure characters and stories and sometimes the lead characters are, pardon our language, assholes – but oddly enough you can’t help but root for them and ultimately they have a sweet, sincere message in the end. They both write together and Hill directs while McBride stars and the formula doesn’t change for their latest venture, the new Netflix film The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter.

The film stars McBride, Josh Brolin, and newcomer Montana Jones. It tells the story of a man, son, and hunting videos. We follow Buck Ferguson a proud man who records hunting videos online. He decides to take his son, Jaden, on his first hunting trip to kill his first Whitetail Deer. He also takes along his cameraman played by Danny McBride. Buck’s ex-wife is now with another man named Greg who is more clean cut, sort of has  his life a little more put together, which constantly makes Buck jealous. The film address this problem almost immediately when the Greg gives Jaden a way more updated and fancier gun to use to shoot the deer. Jaden is a kid living in this era so, needless to say, he’s obsessed with his phone. He even has a girlfriend who he talks to constantly.

Jones plays Jaden, a newcomer that is sure to have a big career ahead of him. He was chosen out of 10,000 children to play this role and while watching the film you can tell he is perfect for the role. A Texas native, Jones, has a southern drawl and a perfect sense of comedic timing. Hill and McBride are known to never write boring characters, they always have a certain odd twist. Some of the dialogue they give Jaden is a bit adult but it works perfectly. Brolin plays Buck so well that you forget you’re watching Josh Brolin on the screen. It’s films like this that make you realize how underrated Brolin is – he’s done dramas, comedies, been a president, even going to be a villain in a superhero movie (Deadpool 2) – is there anything he can’t do? McBride’s character is a slowburn sweetheart. You don’t really care about him at first, he’s just a cameraman that is getting wacked around a bit, but then he connects with Jaden and they form a cute almost Cool Uncle/Nephew vibe.

The film is very wacky, in a way a little more than their usual shows and films, but it’s about shooting your own hunting videos so of course it is going to be. I found myself laughing out loud quite a bit. But there are many heartfelt scenes to. McBride and Hill are these strange bros of Hollywood with hearts. They know how to make some killer gross-out jokes but then the next scene will pull at your heartstrings. Some ideas are pretty far fetched, including a scene where they basically white water raft on an air mattress – but watching the film you’re in and you believe this ridiculous world. They create scenes like that and then honestly funny ones like one where Buck takes Jaden’s phone away from him and ends up deleting a bunch of pictures of Jaden with his “new parents” – his mom and Greg.

Overall, even as a big fan of McBride and Hill’s previous works, you’re still pleasantly surprised how fun of a movie it is. It’s sweet, the relationships seem genuine, there’s a great character growth where Buck ends up realizing his love of hunting can almost ruin or even actually ruin past relationships. You’ll laugh, you’ll aww, and you’ll end up wanting to call your dad to check up on him after watching this film. The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter hits Netflix July 6th.

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