John Dies at the End is undeniably crude. It features plenty of violence: there is a scene where someone's eyeballs explode while they are driving, and there is also an animated sequence where a tentacle monster named Korrok rips some babies apart that is not for the faint of heart. The movie also features a lot of drugs: John and Dave, the movie's two protagonists, spend most of their time onscreen high on a drug called "soy sauce" which allows them to see into the future and to mind meld with dogs. And don't get me started on the sex. (At one point there is a prominently displayed photoshopped picture of a bull trying to mate with a Clydesdale horse.) It's not the sort of movie you would recommend to your average uptight opera fan.
Which is why it is exactly the right movie for me at this exact moment in time.
You see, my mom just talked me into joining her on a tour of California's wine country. In theory I should be having a great time, because all of the undeniably beautiful restaurants and wineries we have visited were designed to be the be-all and end-all of relaxing. But the truth is that I'm just too self-conscious to enjoy "nice" things and being around all this expensive bullshit has made me feel very awkward. Yesterday I was looking past a wood-fired pizza oven towards a picturesque grape farm and thinking "Jesus, this place is so fancy-ass. Who the fuck do these people think I am? Mitt Romney?"
So when I got home I tried to clear the after-images of tastefully floral sundresses out of my eyes by binging on a truly tasteless movie. John Dies at the End fit the bill perfectly, because it truly does not give two fucks about good taste. Don't get me wrong; it isn't trying to be shocking just to be shocking. No, it's just doing it's own thing, but its "own thing" is pretty damn weird. Like "wait, why did that guy's head just explode?" weird.
Strictly speaking, John Dies at the End doesn't make any sense. Characters die and come back to life semi-randomly. Several characters have no concept of what they look like - one describes himself as an elderly African American gentleman even though he looks like a middle aged white schlub to the audience. Its world is populated by psychic Rastafarians, walking and talking sausage links, and sentient sacks of demon eggs. But the whole thing hangs together because it all operates under a certain type of dream logic, and it is all united by the same sick sense of humor.
As such, it's the sort of movie I would enjoy in almost any context, because I almost always love offbeat funny movies. (In fact, I had already seen John Dies at the End once before, and it tickled my fancy then, too.) But it was a god-send last night, because it's skewed view of the world really helped me reorient myself after all of California's bourgeois niceness had knocked me off balance. Put me on a patio with people who are content to look out on the sun setting on a green-and-gold valley and I will inevitably think "what the fuck am I doing here?" - but put me in a room with people who enjoy laughing at the sight of a stoner getting into a fisfight with a monster made out of freezer meats and I'll think "ah, I'm right where I'm supposed to be."
Naturally, your mileage will probably vary. A movie that climaxes with two hapless dropouts trying to destroy an extra dimensional beast with a hallucinogenic nuclear device isn't going to be for everyone. But it is totally fine with me if John Dies at the End is not your bag. As far as I'm concerned, you can always go outside and enjoy a nice merlot and cheese pairing, you fucking Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, I'm going to be back in my darkened room, trying to find more movies that will give me the surreal blood-soaked laughs that truly make life worth living.