As a young comic, David Cross plugged away at his stand-up for fourteen years before finding success with Mr. Show. It’s understandable his feature-film directorial debut, Hits, gives side-eye to YouTube stars who take a shortcut.
Of course, cyber celebrity comes at a cost. Cross’s chipper characters are more likely to find fame getting their nuts squeezed in a brawl than they are sweating over antiquated concepts like talent. That bitchy barmaid Katelyn (Meredith Hagner) dreams of recording a demo to earn a singing slot on The Voice feels downright old-fashioned — why not just get knocked up and go on Teen Mom?
Katelyn’s aghast when a flood of attention-seeking Brooklyn activists invade her upstate New York hamlet to transform her dad (Matt Walsh) into a viral cause célèbre, reframing his increasingly incoherent meltdowns at the city council as though he’s the second coming of Rosa Parks.
In turn, the council head (Amy Carlson), a dead ringer for Hillary Clinton, prepares for the showdown by booking a manicure in case CNN shows up. Cross, who also wrote the script, is content to come across like a grumpy old man. His comedy is one-note, furious, and fun-enough, with his surplus anger aimed at a trio of hipsters (James Adomian, Wyatt Cenac, and Derek Waters) who mouth buzzwords like “artisanal” and “authentic,” but care so much about everything that they care genuinely for nothing.
Here, real authenticity is extinct. Hard work is endangered, and nuance is next. Yet under the din, using whatever oxygen the fame-hounds haven’t huffed, Cross is bellowing, “Get off my lawn — and get off my stage!”