SXSW 2024: The Gutter – delivers crass humor and a few surprises

Photo by Laurie Coker

At SXSW 2024, audiences were treated to the raucously crude comedy ‘The Gutter,’ a film that takes the bowling alley setting to new heights of hilarity. Directed by Yassir Lester and Isaiah Lester and boasting a quality ensemble cast, including Shameik Moore, Susan Sarandon, D’Arcy Carden, and Jay Ellis, ‘The Gutter’ delivers crass humor and surprises in equal measure. The film follows frequently fired Walt (Shameik Moore) as he lands a job at his local bowling alley, The Gutter, where he tends bar and de-roaches shoes. Feeling like he’s finally found a home, Walt’s world is turned upside down when money issues threaten The Gutter’s existence. Enter former pro bowler and reigning champion drinker Skunk (Jay Ellis), who pressures Walt into embracing his role as the greatest bowler the world has ever seen.

What ensues is a wild ride through the world of competitive bowling, with Walt’s love of big checks and in-your-face style of play dominating the pro tour. However, he faces fierce opposition from detractors like “Bowl Lives Matter” host Angelo Powers and retired bowling legend Linda “The Crusher” Curson, played by Susan Sarandon. The clash between Walt and his adversaries provides plenty of comedic fodder, with the film’s crass humor hitting the mark more often than not.

While ‘The Gutter’ may rely on some familiar clichés of the sports comedy genre, it injects enough fresh twists and turns to keep audiences entertained. The Q&A session after the screening proved engaging, with stars like Paul Reiser and Susan Sarandon sharing anecdotes from the set and their experiences making the film. Moore shines well enough in the lead role, delivering a funny and oddly endearing performance, but it’s Carden who steals the show with her impeccable comedic timing and standout moments.

Visually, the film benefits from Veronica Bouza’s cinematography, which captures the neon-lit ambiance of the bowling alley with flair. Maggie Ruder’s production design adds to the film’s immersive setting, while Keegan DeWitt’s score sets the perfect tone for each scene.

While not a festival favorite, ‘The Gutter’ is a middle-of-the-road yet enjoyable comedy that occasionally hits the mark with its crass humor and memorable performances. While it may not break new ground in the genre, it’s a fun ride that will leave audiences laughing.

Leave a comment