Starring Zach Galifianakis, Judy Greer, and Mía Maestro.
Since the birth of existentialism, absurdity has worked as a delightful comedic medium. In low brow settings, Monty Python (let’s not fool ourselves, the troupe is brilliant despite their silly sketches) explores absurdity when is depicts a couple of safari men performing the fish slapping dance. On the other side of the spectrum, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is a play that portrays two men with minute attention spans waiting for God.
In both instances, the writer finds comedy in the absurdities of life. When considered deeply, life contains many strange and downright silly aspects. In a similar vein, Jared Drake’s Visioneers explores the absurdity of the modern lifestyle.
The Jeffers Corporation and Stress Explosions
Set in the near future, Visioneers follows the life of George Washington Winsterhammerman (Zach Galifianakis), a descendent of George Washington and a Level Three employee at the Jeffers Corporation. Led by Mr. Jeffers, the Jeffers Corporation is the largest business in the history of humanity and it effectively controls the United States.
Ever the company man, George manages a small staff to the peak of efficiency in Tayloresque fashion. One day, however, this mundane existence takes a turn for the worse when George learns that one of his employees literally exploded on his way to work. Later that evening, the news ticker announces that hundreds of thousands of Americans suffered from the same fate.
Word trickles out that these explosion victims all carried symptoms of dreams, unhappiness, overeating, and impotence. Realizing that he possesses these indicators, George worries that he might explode as well. Searching for answers to this explosion problem, the Jeffers Corporation develops a depression inhibitor that guarantees the happiness of society. With the president in the corporation’s pocket, the company requires U.S. citizens to wear the device for their own safety.
Chaos and the Middle Finger
Throughout the movie, George seeks answers to his existential problems. With clear references to Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Visioneers explores the absurdity of modern life and the pursuit of happiness.
The best scenes of the movie occur in the office, where company policy and culture are ridiculously enacted. Hilariously, to politely greet someone, one must give them the middle finger. Also, society pronounces chaos as “chay-oss”. When one of George’s employees arrives at work, he gives George the middle finger greeting and then puts a gun to his head Russian-roulette-style – as ordered by his therapist – to ensure that he is still alive.
While the office sequences brilliantly portray absurdity, the main plot line is simply pedestrian. With George searching for meaning, he questions his safe and boring life pursuing opportunities that provide danger and intrigue.
Despite its flaws, Visioneers is entertaining and darkly comedic. Although it is nowhere near the quality of Waiting for Godot, I appreciated the movie’s homage to Beckett’s classic work. Zach Galifianakis performs admirably in his role and his acting supports the film in the places where the writing falls flat. All in all, I recommend Visioneers for those interested in the comedy of the absurd.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5
Donovan Richards is a University of Washington undergraduate alumnus from 2008, graduating with a BA in Philosophy. He is also a graduate of the inaugural Seattle Pacific University School of Theology graduate program class of 2009 as an MA student in Business and Theology. He is a huge fan of music, books, and movies. You can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.