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Fantastic Fest Review: Kenny Begins

By  · Published on October 8th, 2009

We come to Fantastic Fest for the weird. I’ve said it a few times before, and it is worth saying again. When you come to a festival such as this one, you see plenty of action movies, plenty of martial arts, sci-fi and of course, some horror. You also see some weird. In the weird column, I would like to enter Kenny Begins. It is quite simply the weirdest, most insane and possibly most deviously enjoyable films that I’ve seen here at Fantastic Fest. It’s Swedish. And that’s just the beginning.

The film follows the converging stories of two misfits, a “galaxy hero” wannabe from a distant sector of the universe, who is trying to graduate starfighter school before the money runs out and his mom makes him become a hairdresser. On Earth, we meet Pontus, a gimpy, slow outcast who is picked on daily because he lives “on the other side of the tracks.” When a power crystal from Kenny’s world is flushed through a black hole, it ends up on Earth and in the hands of Pontus. Upon touching the crystal, the young Earthling is given an untold amount of power. Now he must work with Kenny (who landed there by accident) to defeat a large-brained mastermind who wants to use the crystal’s power for the purposes of evil. They also must figure out a way for Pontus to win over Miranda, his school’s most popular (and hot) girl.

It’s two hero stories wrapped in one. Well to be fair, it’s two classic hero journeys that converge in the land of absurdity. And for all intents and purposes, it’s a rather fun ride. The central performance from Johan Rheborg as Kenny is well over the top, as is the deviously fun villainous performance from Jan Mybrand, who plays the mega-brained bad guy Rutger Oversmart. The film ultimately wins on the shoulders of these performances, as well as the completely ridiculous costumes and sets – all of which lend to a Starship Troopers meets Mystery Men vibe, but really Swedish.

What we can appreciate most from Carl Astrand and Mats Lindberg’s film is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but also delivers when dramatic push comes to comedic shove. It’s not brilliant satire or an astounding visual feast, but it is a fun, well-paced ride. We are talking about a story set in a world when “Clown Ice” (a Popsicle made of frozen water) is the number one economic driver and there are hairdressers who engage in Moonwalking competitions. It’s not to be taken seriously, not one bit. But you should check it, if you have the chance (or if you’re Swedish), as it is one space comedy that delivers the laughs when it counts, even if it is completely ridiculous.

The Upside: A few incredibly fun performances, some fun action and a dude with a really awesome mullet who just wants to be a Galaxy Hero.

The Downside: It’s very strange (and Swedish), which might not work for everyone.

On the Side: This film is based on a Swedish television series called “Kenny Starfighter,” which ran for one season back in 1997.

Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)