Bloomington’s Mod Sun Won a ‘Worst Director’ Razzie Award. Here’s Our Review of ‘Good Mourning.’
A truly deserving award.
12:32 PM CDT on March 13, 2023
The only major local connection at last night's slap-less Oscars was James Hong, the Minneapolis-born Hollywood great who co-starred in "Best Picture" winner Everything Everywhere All at Once. (The prolific 94-year-old actor enjoyed some light ribbing from host Jimmy Kimmel.)
At the polar opposite end of the excellence spectrum, another Minnesota talent was recognized for his contributions to the world of film. Freshly dumped by fiancé Avril Lavigne, Mod Sun endured additional indignity at Saturday's 43rd annual Golden Raspberry Awards—aka The Razzies. The rapper/singer/songwriter/recent pop-punk purist received the "Worst Director" Razzie for Good Mourning, the stoner comedy he co-directed with Machine Gun Kelly. (Be sure to revisit Racket's MGK panning from last summer, which even drew praise from literary icon Roxane Gay.)
Mod Sun being formally recognized for creating bad art won't be surprising for those who've tracked the 36-year-old Bloomington native's career. The real-life Derek Smith emerged from the 'burbs as drummer for post-hardcore band Four Letter Lie (the "Lie" is... love). He'd then rebrand as the acronym Mod Sun (“Movement On Dreams, Stand Under None”), and became a progenitor of the so-called "hippy hop" genre, a druggy, positive, psychedelic style of rap. His collaborators include fellow Minnesotan Riff Raff, MGK, Blackbear, G-Eazy, and Travis Barker, the latter of whom is actually good. Mod's opportunist pivot to the revitalized genre du jour, pop punk, coincided with his unlikely tabloid ubiquity spawned from messy public romances with Bella Thorne, Tana Mongeau, and Avril.
As Racket's resident sucker for punishment, I spent $3 plus 93 minutes of my Sunday evening suffering through Good Mourning. Spoiler: The current 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and 3.1 out of 10 on IMDb are perhaps generous. We connected with Razzie founder John Wilson by phone Monday to hear why the movie deserved his unenviable award:
"“Those two guys beat out the director of Blonde, the director of Pinocchio, the directors of way better-known movies. But I think they did earn it. If I were marketing the movie, I would figure out what those two guys were on when they made it and hand it out in the lobby, just so audiences could follow the dumb thing. It’s one of the most slack, indulgent, uninteresting… I mean it all revolves around a misinterpreted cell phone message. It’s like Adam Sandler times 10 with the cameos; he has a track record of inviting his friends to be in his movies, but he has actual writers. Silly as they may be, those movies sort of have plots. Good Mourning was just like being chained at the ankle for a day with someone you would not want to spend time with.”
Let's dive in...
The film opens with a floating tarot card descending to opulent L.A., as we hear a whispered quote: “Today’s the biggest day of your life babe. Don’t get too high.” The babe in question is London Clash (MGK), the megastar TV actor who awakens to a text from his girlfriend Apple (Becky G). "Good mourning" it reads, setting up the flimsy-as-fuck premise that our hero is being broken up with via iPhone on the very day he's meeting for the role of a lifetime—Batman. MGK's character, evoking the charmless, confused exasperation that will define this role, can't compute what the text means, though he takes the massive leap that it's relationship-ending.
That sets up the labored, lifeless, stitched-together cavalcade of spoofs, goofs, Family Guy-style cutaways, and ham-fisted cameos that follows. Unlike cherished stoner comedies like Half Baked and How High, the Mod Sun/MGK-authored Good Mourning lacks three essential ingredients: jokes, personality, and fun. Mercifully, the pacing is swift.
Clash informs viewers early on that his roommate, the burnout Dylan (Mod Sun), is “convinced Avril Lavigne wrote the song 'Sk8er Boi' about him." This defining trait will payoff later when Avril smooches him, though we learn little else about Dylan from Mod's aloof performance. MGK, meanwhile, comes off like a lobotomized Jesse Pinkman, ending a handful of scenes with variations of “What the fuck... Well that was weird.” He's most committed during a non-sequitur montage featuring camera-facing impressions of Harry Potter, a pirate, a cowboy, and Ace Ventura. Everything feels like a first take. Everybody is dressed like a rich dumbass.
You get a sense of the script's horsepower early on, when Mod nodding out into a bowl of cereal passes for an entire joke. Or when Clash's new assistant, Olive (Dove Cameron, playing against type as a non-knockout because of glasses), orders his coffee with goat milk. He meant oat milk, we learn. One entire bit features three characters getting into a car that's a little too small. They jostle, they grimace, they get out. That's the whole joke. There's a rush of relief whenever a real actor shows up, like the icy Megan Fox playing Clash's ex-roommate, the delightfully riffy Whitney Cummings playing his aggressive agent, or the effortlessly cool GaTa playing his best friend. (Fox and MGK, currently "soft-launching" their breakup, were TMZ fixtures at the time of filming, another cinéma vérité wink-nudge from our wealthy, bored screenwriters.)
The central conflict is whether Clash pursues the girl or the gig. At one point, the boys break into Apple's mansion to see if she's with another dude, and they accidentally brake an entire mantle's worth of urns. Clash's buddy/driver Angel (Zach Villa) informs the crew that only one substance can pass for human ash—weed ash. So they smoke an entire briefcase full of weed, refashion the urns with ashed joints inside, and place them back inside Apple's home. She had already witnessed the broken mess, rendering the switcheroo irrelevant, but that's glossed over in service of killing 30 minutes.
MGK's real-life bestie Pete Davidson shows up as a peppy valet driver. Dennis Rodman punches Clash, resulting in a pivotal viral video. Tom Arnold, something of an honorary Minnesotan because of his heroic cocaine intake here in the '80s, portrays a big-shot gatekeeper film exec. At first, it feels like Danny Trejo made the quickest cameo buck as a stomping caveman for 15 seconds, but then you arrive at Snoop Dogg as an anthropomorphized blunt for 10.
As Clash scrambles to get the Batman role and save his relationship, his buddies get arrested, released, and they all trip on ketamine at rapper YG's place. A Drake lookalike holding a toy snake is propped up as a showstopper joke. Fake, Drake, snake... you get the idea.
Unintentionally, the best moments come when Good Mourning shits on its own characters. Cummings calls MGK's, um, character a “crooked-dick illiterate hillbilly," in a line that was almost certainly improvised; a waitress roasts Mod as someone who came from "a flash sale at Hot Topic."
By the final act, the film abandons the stoner comedy genre entirely, shifting to slapdash rom-com schmaltz featuring characters you've learned nothing about and care even less about. As a document that proves MGK once dated Fox, Mod once dated Avril, and all four of them know Pete Davidson? Good Mourning succeeds. Its only other win is bringing a Razzie home to Minnesota.
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