It’s a truly silly concept almost impossible not to compare to The Hangover. But then, truly, how dare you? Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It (Zhanym, ty ne poverish), from Fantasia 2021, doesn’t appear interested in hollow comparisons to similar movies, this is something all its own. Sure, it’s the tale of some idiot friends ditching the wife and getting caught up with some gangsters, but it’s much less sunburn gags and holiday glamour and much more rural horror and gore.
Dastan (Daniar Alshinov) is at the crossroads familiar to countless thirty-somethings who thought they did everything right. His beautiful wife is pregnant and due any day now. She’s also somewhat of a nag, they’re broke, and buying baby supplies is a hellish nightmare from which there is no escape. So, burnt out from doing his best, Dastan grabs a fishing rod and leaves. He and his friends sprint away from his shrieking-and-ready-to-pop wife and head to the boonies to get some male bonding done before Dastan becomes a full-time Dad.
“There are layers of villains and monsters, sure, but more so, Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It is a hilarious mess of ineptitude.
But what he and his pals don’t know is that they’re little jaunt to the outskirts will mean interrupting a gaggle of gangsters. And that gaggle of gangsters is going to be interrupted by an eccentric father-daughter pair. And they’re all at the whims of a one-eyed psycho killer. There are layers of villains and monsters, sure, but more so, Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It is a hilarious mess of ineptitude. a hilarious mess of ineptitude.
Director, Yernar Nurgaliyev, is mostly known for his comedy and that makes perfect sense. This feature, which is more rural horror, no doubt has its hands in bro-comedy. I’ll spare you the dissertation on the intersection of these two genres but suffice it to say that there’s a reason comedians tend to dip their toes in horror. More recently, we saw similar work from Josh Ruben with Scare Me and Jay Baruchel with Random Acts of Violence. Nurgaliyev blends comedy into a familiar horror setting in a way nothing like the satire of Tucker and Dale vs Evil despite mirroring the concept of “regular people in an extraordinary setting.”
“Ensemble comedies are often only as good as their cast, and each member of this one proves why they’re here.”
Ensemble comedies are often only as good as their cast, and each member of this one proves why they’re here. Each has their own brand of subtle comedy and physicality that afford them their own moments of laughs. The writing and directing do some heavy lifting, ensuring that each character has time on their own to shine. There are certainly some favourites that I’ll spare from spoilage but be prepared for each of the supporting to cast to do something memorable.
There is the potential for a ninety-ish minute movie to feel overstuffed with too many side characters, but the pacing here is an almost thankless standout. By sprinkling in moments like those with an awkward wedding dress or others with a shotgun, the movie keeps the long-running bit fresh without feeling overextended or oversaturated. Imagine the rural comedy elements of Harold and Kumar if they were done with extra craft.
While many bro-heavy ensemble comedies graze the idea of challenged masculinity, few ever take it to task. What’s surprising about a slapstick horror comedy about some idiots and their fishing trip is that it does. Dastan and his friends have something to prove, and their happy ending reaches farther than finding their drunk friend trapped on the roof.
The joke is really on them, all the way up until the final moments where Dastan’s wife gets hers. The nagging woman trope (tired and often ineffectual) is flipped just a bit when Dastan looks like a total butthead trying to explain himself to her. And while you’ll beg for the credits to roll, the film’s audacity in forcing us to watch him try is explosively hilarious.
Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It doesn’t try to bend genres as a means of satirizing them, but it ends up finding a way to lampoon the bro-comedy while paying respect to rural horror. It’s perhaps bizarre to be that deep about the tale of some knuckleheads and their deadly fishing trip, but some things, you need to see to believe. Grab your fishing rods and campfire snacks and come watch a movie keep the charm of unlikable dudes clunking around the woods throughout a beautiful runtime.