Ryan Reynolds stars as Jerry in this 2014 psychological comedy horror about a socially awkward man who struggles with the things that his pets tell him to do, his lovable dog Bosco and his sinister cat Mr Whiskers. The film was written by Michael R. Perry and co-starred Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, and Jacki Weaver
I have to admit that I am a fan of Ryan Reynolds, I have been for years ever since I saw him in a sitcom called 2 Guys and a Girl. There he played Michael “Berg” Bergen and was effortlessly funny and demonstrated a likable personality, good looks and an acting talent that has carried him from that sitcom to an A-List Hollywood celebrity. I am convinced that he is also a very nice, approachable individual because if he is an arrogant asshole than I would absolutely despise him, and he seems to be too nice on film to be a prick in real life. He tends to play very tongue-in-cheek or as I call “Berg-like” characters but he has stretched his acting muscles and taken on other roles in the past which is probably why he took on the role of Jerry in The Voices.
Allow me to bring you up to speed on the plot…
Jerry (Reynolds) is an upbeat, if a little awkward, man who works in a soap factory. He suffers from hallucinations during his daily life, and lives on his own above a bowling alley with his dog and his cat. He visits a counsellor Dr Weaver (Warren), he tells her that he has stopped taking his medication, and she tells him that he must resume taking it or she will have to report him for non-compliance. In his apartment both of his pets talk to him with Bosco being very positive and reassuring him that he is a good man and Mr Whiskers who is cold, cruel and pushes Jerry to do dad things.
In the factory is a woman that Jerry has a crush on named Fiona (Atherton) and he works up the courage to ask her out on a date, she agrees but ultimately stands him up to go to a karaoke bar. On his way home the heartbroken Jerry comes across Fiona on the roadside, soaking wet in the rain after her car wouldn’t start so he offers to give her a lift and take her somewhere warm, she agrees to go with him. As Jerry drives he hits a deer and slits its throat to end its pain, Fiona, terrified of Jerry’s actions runs from the car, he goes after her and accidently stabs her. Taking her body home Bosco (voiced by Reynolds) urges him to go to the Police and confess but Mr Whiskers (also voiced by Reynolds) tells him that if he goes to the authorities he will go to jail and urges him to get rid of the body. Jerry listens to Mr Whiskers and dismembers the body putting it in numerous containers but keeps her severed head in his fridge.
Later Fiona also starts to speak to him forgiving him for his actions, but urges him to start taking his medications again so that he won’t accidently hurt anyone else. Jerry agrees and takes his medication, but after he does he sees what his apartment really looks like. Animal faeces cover the floor, his pets don’t speak to him any longer, old and mouldy pizza boxes litter the place, and Fiona’s head is decomposing and rotting. Terrified of what he is seeing, Jerry throws up the pills he took and throws the rest away down the sink.
The next morning he wakes up to find his animals talking to him again, and he returns to his upbeat manner. Going back to work he discovers that his co-worker Lisa (Kendrick) has a crush on him so the two end up going on a date, where he opens up to her about his mother's death, how it affected him and the two spend the night together. Things seem to be coming together in Jerry’s life but Lisa is about to discover the horrifying truth about him…
The Voices is a film that I am unsure how I feel about because I am really not sure if I liked it or not…let me clarify…I think that Reynolds does a great job as the upbeat Jerry as well as the lovable dog Bosco and his foul-mouthed and downright evil cat Mr Whiskers. His madness is rooted with these two animals which obviously represent the good and evil sides of his personality. I cannot really fault Reynolds’ performance, and those around him are also well cast. Atkinson obviously thinks Jerry is a weirdo but does not have the heart to tell him she doesn’t want to go out with him, and fails to realise how heartbroken he is when she stands him up. Lisa is clearly attracted to Jerry but he doesn’t see it until Fiona is no longer the focus of his attention. So acting wise the cast are all on fine form and the voices of the various animals are provided by Reynolds which works considering that all of the voices he hears are all in his own mind.
What I am not sure about is the story itself or what the purpose of it is.
We learn that Jerry’s mother also heard voices and is so terrified of being institutionalised that she makes him kill her when he was a child. What a selfish bitch…I mean all she is thinking about is herself and not that maybe killing his mother is going to screw him up for life. Also Jerry is someone that should never have been allowed to roam free in society without being more closely monitored, he admits to his therapist that he doesn’t take the medication anymore and she does nothing about it. Jerry is clearly psychotic and allows his evil cat to convince him into committing murder ignoring Bosco. You could argue that two of his killings are accidental but there is a third which obviously is done through the desire to not get caught so Jerry is a serial killer. But unlike the deliciously dark Dexter Morgan, Jerry is lashing out at people who have done him no harm, are not bad people and do not deserve to die. Mr Whiskers tells him that the reason he had a knife in his car was because even if Fiona did go on a date with him he was planning on killing her afterwards anyway so it must be argued that Jerry just a killer who is refusing to recognise the truth that he is nothing more than a monster.
There are admittedly a few moments that made me chuckle, in particular the scene in which a colleague arrives at Jerry’s door asking about Fiona’s whereabouts immediately cuts to him putting her head in his fridge too. Also Bosco’s reaction when someone knocks on the door is exactly the response that every dog owner believes goes through their beloved pet’s head when someone comes to the door saying that he “has Jerry’s back” or will “take a bullet for him”. That also brought a smile to my lips because I used to have a pet when I lived on Brian that is similar to an earth dog who had a similar reaction when someone came to my door.
There is a fair amount of blood soaked gore but thankfully it is never too gruesome, even when Jerry is cutting up Fiona’s body and putting her remains into plastic tubs is played more for humour so is not sickening when it easily could have been.
All in all The Voices is a bizarre film that left me with a confused look on my face, the cast are all excellent, and the voices that Reynolds gives to his pets are both lovable and very sinister. However, I just don’t think I understood the purpose of the story because Jerry should not have been allowed to roam free without much tighter supervision and blood of the people who died as a result of his mental illness is on the hands of the people who allowed him out in the first place as much as it is on his.
I think that I will have to give The Voices an average rating and therefore my Thumb is Horizontal, whilst I can recommend it for fans of Reynolds if they want to see more of “Psycho-Berg” from a Halloween Special of 2 Guys and a Girl but it may leave you a little confused about what the point of the film actually was.
6/10 – Ryan Reynolds is excellent and the rest of the cast all do well, the horror elements are relatively downplayed and never cross the line becoming sickening. However, exactly what the purpose of this film actually was has escaped me but perhaps it takes a less advanced mind like one belonging to a human to figure that out.