“Get-r-done!” There, we said it.
Shame, shame on the Hollywood marketing machine for duping viewers into thinking a subtle and carefully nuanced film like Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector is naught but a juvenile comedy. Rife with pathos and filmed with careful precision not seen since the glory days of Welles himself, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector is in fact a dark, contemplative discourse on the current fragile state of this nation, and perhaps even the entire world. The truly great films of history are those which inspire change and spark political and social upheaval. Could Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector be such a film? It may be, my friends. It may be.
The very first shot of the film is one that is sure to spark the kindling of intellectualism in even the dourest among you. It’s the butt crack of the film’s protagonist, Larry (Larry the Cable Guy, Cars), rising over the back of his jeans. In a lesser motion picture, this might be just a butt crack. But in a film as symbolically powerful as Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, this butt crack is instead an image of a nation divided. Larry’s left butt cheek, which is immobile and appears hard as granite, represents the conservatives, holding fast to the traditions of society, opposing radical overnight reforms in favor of gradual process-based change. Larry’s right butt cheek, meanwhile, appears just slightly more gelatinous, and seems to pull away ever so slightly from its counterpart. The way it jiggles ever so slightly as Larry sits down reveals how Larry’s right butt cheek represents the liberal point of view, broadly encompassing a variety of political ideologies, while continually fighting for individual rights over the rights of the majority. Thus, the conflict between Larry’s butt cheeks, divided as they are by a shadowy, mysterious crevasse, represents conflicting philosophies on the measure of individual liberties, personal dignity, free expression, religious tolerance, private property, universal human rights, transparency of government, limitations on government power, popular sovereignty, national self-determination, privacy, enlightened and rational policy, the rule of law, fundamental equality, a free market economy, and free trade.
Dualism continues to be a potent and deeply resonant trait throughout the rest of the film’s opening, in which Larry shuts down a cockroach-and-housefly-infested diner after revealing himself as a health inspector. Although the character and the performer are introduced to us as a “cable guy,” not once does he serve in this capacity. Obviously, when Larry flashes his health inspector badge, the filmmakers are speaking to us about the duality of the media, and they are asking us just how much we trust the messages delivered to us through the nightly news. Are we seeing pure, unfiltered truth, or have these images been so carefully manipulated so that what we think is a cable guy is, in actuality, a health inspector. Or vice versa. But who is doing this manipulating? The government? The wealthy elite? The Vatican? UFOs? The filmmakers do not say, and instead leave this for us to decide. Once your eyes have been suitably opened by the filmmakers’ brilliant duplicity, then you too will discover that this is not the sloppy writing it initially appears, but an underlying well of anti-establishment incongruity that those in charge of the media, if only they were fully aware of it, would not wish you to see.
As the monumental storyline continues, we meet some of Larry’s coworkers, including his abusive boss (Tom Wilson, Back to the Future, Freaks and Geeks) and the wheelchair-bound Jack Dabbs (Tony Hale, Arrested Development). One wonders at first why these strong comedic talents spend so much time as Larry’s straight men, until, of course, one remembers the allegorical power of the film. Just as the supporting cast is held back from providing a generous amount of laughs, leaving instead most of the punch lines to come from knight-errant hero Larry, so too does a portion of the nation’s populace feel similarly held back and voiceless, not having their own moments in the spotlights of their own lives, nay, their own psyches.
Imagery of the divided political spectrum rears its maleficent head once more when Larry is assigned a partner, Amy Butlin (Iris Bahr, The Unchosen Ones). The constant running joke of Larry mistakenly assuming Butlin is a man represents the gender confusion run rampant in today’s hormonally repressed youth. The sexually ambiguous Butlin, ambiguous at least to Larry’s eyes, watches as Larry romances the shy and insecure Jane (Megyn Price, Grounded for Life). Whenever the characters are shocked by one of Larry’s many lewd, sexually-degrading-to-women comments, are they genuinely shocked, or are they merely following their own pre-programmed subconsious prescriptions concerning their personal and individualized sexual behaviour? If so, the reactions to Larry’s constant elaborate and imaginative descriptions of both female and male anatomy are clearly the characters acting out such mental pre-programming, no matter in what area of the societally backwards gender paradigm they happen to inhabit.
As Larry and Jane continue their tentative romance, we reach the film’s signature sequence. After dinner, Larry rushes to the bathroom upon being overwhelmed by his meal (or perhaps he is overwhelmed by…love). In a scene every bit as epic in scope as the depature from Egypt in The Ten Commandments, Larry sits upon the toilet with his trousers and his undergarments around his ankles, unleashing raw fury from his bowels. Although he hopes not to attract attention to himself during this physical (and emotional?) release, the sounds and, one assumes, the stench of what is happening reach Jane on the other side of the bathroom door, thus adding complexity heretofore unseen in their relationship. But is it really the contents of Larry’s bowels that are being released, or is it the unending rage burning within the deepest, darkest recesses of his own tortured soul?
Larry, the Adonis-like human ideal, eventually uncovers a conspiracy undermining the city’s finest restaurants, a conspiracy that may or may not involve a corrupt mayor (Joe Pantoliano, The Matrix). Just as America’s political state is so harshly divided, the mayor’s corruption offers keen-eyed viewers an antagonist that could represent a breakdown of the system on either side—or both. Just as the mayor might be the one spreading rat feces in gourmet food, so too does corruption spread throughout most political systems, does it not? The unanswered question is: whose corruption does the rat feces represent? It could be argued that when Larry unknowingly eats the aforementioned rat feces, this act undermines the general ethics of democracy and the fluctuating morality of humanity in general by subverting the rational political processes required to defeat all forms of media distortion and economic diffenciency. Is the target of this act whichever political train of thought that you personally oppose, or is there a specific subject in mind? That it raises so many potent questions is the driving force behind Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector. I humbly predict that this DVD release will eventually lead to careful contemplation in decades’ worth of graduate theses dealing with these very topics.
As a recently-made film, video and audio transfers on this DVD are so sharp that viewers will be able to discern all the exquisite apologues in every shot. In the brief featurette included, the actors praise the film and each other, but for some reason they fail to discuss the movie’s layers upon layers of hidden subtext. Aside from that, a few trailers are the only other extras. But, when you’re dealing with a movie so raw with politically-driven metaphors and symbols as Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, it’s clear that the filmmakers want you to explore the richness and complexity of the narrative for yourself. And, perhaps, you might even carry on its groundbreaking themes and ideas into your own life, thus igniting the revolution in your own basements and backyards until someday, somewhere, the world as we know it is forever changed—all thanks to you, and Larry the Cable Guy.