Posted March 13, 2013 by David Watson in Films

Small Apartments

If the idea of Little Britain’s Matt Lucas as a landlord-killing peeping tom with a Swiss fetish (naked but for his tight, white Y-fronts) playing an Alpine horn and incongruously perving over Juno Temple gives you the horn then you’re in luck, Jonas Åkerlund’s Small Apartments is the film you’ve been waiting for!

Franklin Franklin (Matt Lucas) is a reclusive, disturbed man-child with alopecia who dreams of Switzerland and spends his days wandering around in his pants and blowing his Alpine horn.  He lives in a dilapidated LA apartment building populated by screw-ups and rejects like the drug-addled Tommy Balls (Johnny Knoxville, who else?) and the gruff, busybody Mr Allspice (James Caan), spies on his Lolita-esque neighbor Simone (Juno Temple) and receives daily packages in the mail containing audio tapes and toenail clippings from his insane brother Bernard (James Marsden) who is under the spell of perma-tanned, pop psychologist Dr Mennox (Dolph Lundgren).

When he accidentally kills his repellant, bullying landlord Mr Olivetti (Peter Stormare) during an argument about his overdue rent, Franklin panics and (on the advice of his dog!) decides to make it look like Olivetti committed suicide.  BY STABBING HIM, SHOOTING HIM AND SETTING HIM ON FIRE.  Franklin, in case you’re wondering, is no rocket scientist and the botched attempt arouses the suspicions of dogged fire investigator Burt Walnut (Billy Crystal).  But fate hasn’t finished with Franklin just yet…

A comedy for people who find laughter over-rated, Small Apartments is a willfully misanthropic cavalcade of grotesquerie that not only aspires to cult status but is actively designed to be the kind of quirky, smugathon that’ll appeal to a select few chin-strokers who are too cool for school.

Adapted by Chris Mills from his own novel which won the 23rd Annual International 3-Day Novel Writing Contest, Åkerlund’s film would suggest that Mills probably polished the book off in one day and spent the other two blowing on his own special Alpine horn.  Having given us The Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up video and Mena Suvari’s constipated speed freak taking a graphically unerotic dump in tweaker Short CutsSpun, one could never accuse Åkerlund of subtlety and, when professional douchebag Johnny Knoxville’s guyliner-wearing stoner is the closest thing in the film to a relatable, human character, no-one’s about to start now.  Still, Åkerlund has worked extensively with Madonna so if anyone is an expert on charmless, unloveable grotesques, it’s probably him.

The oddball supporting cast are fine and James’ Marsden and Caan are even quite good but Small Apartments is, for better or worse, built upon Lucas and whether you empathise with his oddball mouth-breather.  If you don’t it’s alooooooooong hour and a half.  It has some rather obvious points to make (weirdoes have feelings too, follow yourdreams, blah-de-blah…) which it repeatedly smacks you about the chops with but, ultimately, Small Apartments is a needy, self-satisfied, attention-seeking film screaming “Look at me, look at me…” like some Montessori-schooled incubus.

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: