When you go into a movie screening without any knowledge of the film, it’s exciting. Most movies these days are loud, colourful, and overly complicated, like the writers never learned how to keep things concise. And then there’s “Danny Doom,” directed by Matthew Wilson. This movie is subdued and overly simplified.
This film is shot to make it come across as a documentary of some sort or some kind of riff on “Napoleon Dynamite” from back in 2004. There are a lot of people who do not like “Napoleon Dynamite,” they don’t get it. They can’t relate to it. Then there are the fans who can quote every line and frequently do so in regular conversation. Heck yes!
“Danny Doom” is about a boy, Danny (Gavin Michaels), born on September 11, THAT September 11, the one we all know about from either having lived through it or read about it in the newer history books. The day the world supposedly changed forever after men on hijacked planes attacked the United States.
Now, when I think about 9/11, I feel sadness. I know exactly where I was when the Twin Towers were hit. I was in Memorial Hall taking a literature class at the University of Delaware. Clearly, Danny was just being born and has no memory of this day, but according to him, he is known as “Danny Doom” simply because of his birthdate. My first thought is that this kid needs to get over himself because he’s alive and thousands of people died on that date. However, for the sake of reviewing this film, I figure I should let that part go and just keep watching.
Boy oh boy Danny
Danny goes from wanting to start a drama team as part of a youth ministry with Pastor Jack (Vinnie Duyck) to then running to some girl’s house after he finds out she is newly single. Seriously, this kid has never been to her house, he apparently knew where she lived due to social media. Yet, he knocks on her door the same day she breaks up with a guy. I’m not sure if God has someone else for either of those two, but 8 minutes into this film and I am already so done with Danny. Megan Hendrickson (Brett Hargrave), single or not, is also so done with Danny.
Back to the pastor’s house since he was rejected by the girl he was obsessing over. He is told by the pastor that he should not be called “Danny Doom” but instead “Danny Do” because he is going to start a ministry, he received an internship and a scholarship. All good news, right!?
Be ready for joys and sorrows.
The pastor tells Danny that when he is tempted to be selfish, he should fight himself. I wonder how that will be possible since he has been having a pity party, which is pretty darn selfish, ever since the film started not even 10 minutes ago.
Cut to a scene inside a church with Danny and two of his friends participating in some kind of scripted youth ministry scenario. Danny goes off the handle, in some sort of unexplained, negative-nelly improv. It startles the teens in the church and his friends on stage. He then tells his ministry mates, Beau (Sean Applanalp) and Theresia (NJ Ambonisye), that he did indeed ask out Megan the very same day she broke up with her boyfriend. Danny is so dense that he takes the insight offered by his friends and turns it into some kind of creepy reason to stalk Megan.
Take your organic beets and shove them, Danny.
After Megan tells Danny to leave her alone, he ends up sulking in his bedroom like Kristin Stewart in Twilight and it further drives me to loathe his character.
Ham bones are meant to add flavor to soup, and that’s exactly what Danny does next. He becomes a ham bone in a very murky pot of soup. To disguise himself at Megan’s church, because that’s where the youth ministry is performing next, he dons a ridiculous costume of tattoos, bandanas and yellow contacts. Friends, his new persona is named “Ham Bone.”
Megan sees fake Danny standing behind the church practising his “Ham Bone” lines. He spews lies, in his terrible disguise and Megan seems to like it. She wants to meet up with him after the whole youth ministry thing, but then he convinces her to skip the whole thing and he wanders off with the girl of his dreams. Danny leaves his friends stranded at the church and walks off with Megan.
Then comes the “party” of three other people that Megan invites Ham Bone to attend. One of the people is Megan’s ex-boyfriend Damian (Paul Ryan Hobson). He has a blonde attached to his hip making it very clear that Megan clearly has brought Danny aka “Ham Bone” to make Damian jealous.
I feel like watching the film has made me digress back into my freshman year of high school. I didn’t like it back in 1995 and I like it even less now.
“Shots go down until someone doesn’t get up, got it?”
Do you remember the scene in Fresh Prince when Will starts drinking shots with Jackie’s new boyfriend? Or the scene in any sitcom from the 90s when this happens? Yeah? This is nothing like that, because Danny for the first time in the movie does something smart. It’s still selfish, but it’s smart. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but it’s the first time I find something to like about this kid.
Long story short, they end up kissing after he sort of saves the day by stealing a van. Very Christian of him, I know, but then he continues to only think about himself. I think the true Christianity part of this comes out when he wakes up the next day feeling guilty and decides to return the stolen van as Danny. Somehow no one realizes Danny and Ham Bone are the same dude.
Friend Zone Freddie
Of all the people in the credits, I’m probably supposed to like Damian the least. As a character, he’s an ass, though not as much of an ass as Megan. Damian is my favorite because even though he isn’t in the movie long, he seems the most authentic.
After Danny returns the van, he gets upset to see that everyone thinks he is a hero except Megan. He does what any obsessed pre-college aged person would do, and he goes to her house to confront her as Danny. It’s painful to watch because it doesn’t land at all. What’s a guy to do? Take his glasses off and change personalities, of course!
Later that same day, Ham Bone threatens to fight Danny in a video that Megan records. She sends it to everyone in town because that’s the type of person she is. Danny then has to figure out how to fight himself, which he can’t. His boss, Pastor Jack, lets him know he if he even goes to the fight that he will be fired. Fights are not Christian-like.
Moral of the story? Learn faster than Danny.
Danny is a selfish, horribly insecure girl-obsessed boy-man who has no idea how good he has it in his so-called doomed life. He has two youth ministry friends who are there for him from the start. He has Pastor Jack who is super patient and understanding; though he fired Danny for pretending to fight the fake Ham Bone. He has college ahead of him on a full scholarship thanks to Pastor Jack and yet he throws it all away every time he tells another lie.
In the end, I did finally find myself smiling when I realized Megan was going to ask Danny to go for coffee. The smile is because the movie came full circle, and I knew it would be ending soon.
Will I ever watch this movie again? No.
Will I recommend it? No.
Do I like the overall message or lesson learned? Yes. I appreciate the attempt to show people the only path to freedom is to be honest and authentic. Perhaps there will be a cult following this movie someday, just like “Napoleon Dynamite,” and I will be the freakinh idiot who just didn’t get it.
Please, by all means, watch the film for yourself and let me know what you think.
“Danny Doom,” a new movie written, directed and produced by Matthew Wilson, coming July 30, 2021, to Amazon Prime Video.