Remarkable Power (DVD Review)11 Feb, 2010 By: John Latchem
Rated ‘R’ for language, sexuality, violence and drug use.
Stars Kevin Nealon, Tom Arnold, Kip Pardue, Nora Zehetner, Dulé Hill, Christopher Titus, Evan Peters, Whitney Able.
A dark comedy akin to Very Bad Things, Remarkable Power manages to concoct a winning formula despite an overabundance of characters and a plot that threatens to unravel at any time.
The movie begins with a news report about the death of late-night talk show host Jack West (Kevin Nealon), then flashes back to reveal how it came to be with two parallel storylines that don’t seem to have anything to do with each other until converging in the final act.
In one, we see West learning that his show has been canceled due to declining ratings, a result of booking bizarre guests such as Mini-KISS (who made a splash in a recent Super Bowl ad). Adding insult to injury, Jack’s wife has been cheating on him with a local baseball star, and he hires a private detective (Tom Arnold) to gather video evidence.
Meanwhile, a young loner named Ross (Evan Peters) thinks the key to success is a late-night infomercial self-help book called Remarkable Power. He encounters one of the actors from the infomercial in the street, who mocks him for buying the thing. But a scuffle leads to the actor’s accidental death, and a strange turn of events finds Ross living in the actor’s condo and finding money the actor needed to pay off a Jewish mobster.
Caught in the middle are Arnold’s detective and a blogger (Nora Zehetner) who likes to post pictures of dead people. The two team to unravel the connection between Ross, Russian gangsters and, ultimately, Jack.
The movie has a lot of plot to cover, but writer-director Brandon Beckner deftly keeps every thread straight, giving the audience just enough information to keep up while holding back enough to maintain curiosity.
Though the movie was made in 2008, the late-night ratings subplot creates an eerie resonance with the recent controversy surrounding “The Tonight Show,” but I don’t imagine Jay Leno or Conan O’Brien resorting to such extreme actions as Jack.