Pint-size producer and documentarian Dick “The Stick” Prix (pronounced “Pree”) is renowned for his ability to take seemingly innocuous, clean-as-a-lilly subjects and find their dark sides. Take for instance his 2011 critically acclaimed documentary “Finders Keepers, Losers Sweepers,” a fascinating look the secret world of nighttime high school janitors, which provided insight and answers to the decades-old question of, “What the hell do they do in there every night with the doors locked?”
Following an 18-month sabbatical in which Prix gained 147 pounds and “more chins than a Chinese phone book,” he strode back into filmmaking with a vengeance. On Feb. 29, 2015, he released his latest gem, “Kicked in the Nuts: Elementary Dear Watson,” a gut-wrenching flashback-based story of how a rubber ball altered the lives of nine second-grade boys during a game of kickball at a local elementary school.
In the film, Prix took a great amount of skillful-yet-risky artistic license in filming from a vastly underused viewpoint — ground level. By taking things to a new low, he made his pint-sized subjects look almost — for lack of a better word — real. His skillful capturing of an 8-year-old John Hockett punching a comparably diminutive Danny Turdstill in the nose after Turdstill pitched him a “bouncer,” was as shocking as it was insightful, giving viewers a grim look into the world of an all-too-ignored elementary playground thug’s life.
Equally as disturbing were the hidden microphone recordings of the pony-tailed girls that were captured near the merry-go-round while the boys went about their ball-busting ways. Viewers will no longer see the spinning wheel of laughter as a place of merriment after hearing phrases such a “yucky poopy head,” and “dumb-dumb stinky butt” emerge from the mouths of these babes.
But the side plots aren’t enough to cast shadow over Prix’s intent to expose the game of kickball as something much more devious than it has been portrayed in the public eye across the years. In Prix’s film, kickball is but a homonym wrapped in a pseudonym that hatches into a tyrannical haiku — a gentle alienation of alliteration.
Prix’s trademark directorial move — the cessation of reality where reality should cease — is still a part of his celluloidal arsenal. Again and again, the round, reddish, basketball-sized rubber object is demonized in multiple sets of slow-motion sequences. In one achingly auspicious moment, we see an awkward, athletic-less 8-year-old Lyle Robertson approach a pitched ball with ferocious intent, only to have the rounded red demon take an odd hop at the last second, causing a “leg whiff.” Prix expertly catches the ensuing moments by placing multiple Go-Pro cameras on Robertson’s tears as they fall in slow motion to the ground toward the now-stopped kickball, which looks up at the boy with newly-formed eyes, a nose and a deviant, smiling mouth in place of the air pressure valve. Simultaneously, on the pitcher’s mound, Teddy Rogers’ Spiderman Underoos fill with a coarse offering of yellow-ish “liquid joy.”
And that’s just the first 15 minutes. Much like opening moments of the Academy Award-Winning “Saving Private Ryan,” “Kicked In the Nuts,” will grab your attention from the outset and refuse to let go of your testicular fortitude. That’s a blessing in blue, served round, sound and shaven. See this movie and head to your local chapel afterward to thank God for Prix like Dick. APRIL FOOLS