“Hey Viktor!” at 2023 Tribeca Film Festival

    One of my favorite films at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival was the comic mockumentary “Hey Viktor!” Cody Lightning directs and plays a fictional version of himself, a washed up alcoholic who enjoyed brief fame as a child actor in the 1998 indie hit “Smoke Signals.” That Canadian film was the rare feature that cast actual indigenous Americans.

    When his friends attempt an intervention, Cody reacts by double-downing on his dream of making a sequel to the film that made him a minor star. Cody not only physically resembles comic film director Onur Tukel, his film seems highly influenced by Tukel’s outrageous comic style as well as the blowhard antics of characters created by Danny McBride. If you don’t enjoy the work of those two comic geniuses you won’t like or maybe even understand what is so hysterically funny about this movie.

    Hannah Cheesman plays Cody’s agent and creative partner Kate and her brilliant performance accounts for much of what makes this comedy work so well. Kate’s cautious but credulous support of her client anchor’s the audience’s involvement in the ridiculous hijinx of the film. Tall and thin with hugely expressive eyes, her physical contrast with Cody made me think of Looney Tunes duos–maybe the Tasmanian Devil and Bugs Bunny!

    A psycho killer investor in the film insists that other original cast members of “Smoke Signals” appear in the sequel and making this happen is the source of the far-fetched shenanigans that make up most of the film’s plot. This includes a raid on Adam Beach’s house after he refuses to participate in the film. Lacking that they go after a hairpiece he wore in the movie. 

    Like the work of Tukel and McBride, this film works in part because of Mr. Lightning’s willingness to play his character faults to the hilt (including copious, unflattering nudity and much bathroom humor). “Hey Viktor!” is not for everyone but I enjoyed it immensely. And I only drank eight or nine beers and ate one cannibas edible while watching it.

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