Film

Katherine Heigl’s Comeback Begins With Suburban Comedy Home Sweet Hell

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If you’ve been a movie-watcher for more than a few months, you know the suburbs of 21st-century America are merely a glossy façade behind which the darkest depths of human malice and corruption lurk.

What’s mildly surprising about Anthony Burns’s Home Sweet Hell is how much it wrings from this premise while still seeming fresh. For that, credit the cast’s enthusiasm. As furniture store owner Don Champagne, Patrick Wilson adopts a forced grin recognizable to any nuclear family man. Meanwhile, wife Mona (Katherine Heigl) embraces the alpha mom concept with gusto, going from scrubbing sink grout with a toothbrush to insisting that Don masturbate rather than deviate from their strictly scheduled sex life.

Indeed, Mona is practically a parody of every negative behavior Heigl has been accused of over the course of her career: She’s humorless, domineering, occasionally unhinged. Heigl risks overkill until Don’s affair with new store assistant Dusty (Jordana Brewster) is exposed, freeing her to rise to the grisly challenge. There are other amusing interludes, like watching Wilson — going for broke with his thinly written character — snort meth with Dusty’s tweaker colleagues (A.J. Buckley and Kevin McKidd).

You also can’t deny some enjoyment from seeing a poncho-clad Heigl working a chainsaw on a corpse (in another American Psycho call-out, the police chief — played by Chi McBride — tries to impress Don by way of his new business cards). Burns briefly takes us down the “sins of the father” (or mother, in this case) road before ending on, if you’re paying attention, a pretty depressing note.

Home Sweet Hell is a pleasantly unpleasant dark comedy, one that gives new meaning to “detached and subdivided” in the mass production zone.

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