Credit: Open Road Films
by Steven Warner Featured Film Genre Views

Good Mourning — Machine Gun Kelly & Mod Sun

May 23, 2022

Good Mourning isn’t the cult stoner comedy it angles to be, but there’s a welcome amiability that permeates the entire film, elevating this MGK vanity project to fleet diversion.

Colson Baker, better known to the world as Machine Gun Kelly, is a rapper, punk rocker, and blood-drinker (depending on the day), a man both loathed and adored in equal measure, particularly in 2022. It’s impossible to say if his fans truly love his carefully cultivated gauche persona and musical stylings or if it’s some sort of ironic adoration born out of his paradoxical swaggering/soft-boi public persona — both factions are likely sizable. Plenty a blonde-haired stoner has parlayed limited talent into dubious fame, but the extreme vitriol directed at this particular individual from Internet spaces would seem appropriate only if it was discovered he was also a neo-Nazi pedophile who worked as Harvey Weinstein’s defense lawyer. MGK — as real ones know him — seems pretty innocuous in the grand scheme of things, perhaps his greatest sins being that of having an extremely punchable face and trading way up by dating Megan Fox. Jealousy, as they say, is a bitch.

One thing MGK is not, however, is a terribly good actor, having popped up in films as varied as Bird Box and The King of Staten Island, and rarely leaving much of an impression, a remarkable achievement considering he is most known for his divisive personality. New comedy Good Mourning marks not only the rapper’s first leading role, but also his feature-length writing and directing debut (assuming you don’t count the 47-minute, Facebook-exclusive Downfalls High), taking the reins with friend and frequent collaborator Mod Sun. The fact that the two don’t embarrass themselves completely in the filmmaking department is honestly a bit of a surprise; that this is actually better directed than half the dreck that Netflix produces each year is jaw-dropping (that is, until you refresh yourself with the streaming giant’s recent catalog). That’s not to say that Good Mourning is good per se, or that it even sets out to be. In essence, the film is a series of loosely-connected scenes in which MGK, here playing a television star ridiculously named London Clash, hangs out with his friends and gets high, occasionally weaving in a plot thread about how London thinks his girlfriend Apple (Becky G) is going to break up with him because he receives the titular text. You see, this particular mourning has a “u” in it, which London interprets as Apple giving him the heave-ho. Incredibly stupid, you say? Correct. Real paranoid stretch? Yes. But no one is here for depth or life lessons. What they signed up for is the MGK show, and that they get in spades.

Good Mourning desperately wants to be a stoner comedy for the 21st century, a modern-day update on the likes of Cheech and Chong, or probably more accurately, How High. Unfortunately, what’s notably missing is that this effort is rarely laugh-out-loud funny, lurching from one ribald situation to the next, mistaking sheer quantity of jokes and situations for landed humor. Watch as London and his friends — including fellow musicians and real-life fellows GaTa, Zach Villa, and the aforementioned Mod Sun — destroy the urns that hold the remains of Apple’s relatives, resulting in the motley crew smoking literal pounds of weed in order to procure enough ashes to stage a bait-and-switch. See them get hit in the face with water balloons in slow motion. Watch as Megan Fox pops up in form-fitting outfits that accentuate her every curve in order to play a lesbian who babysits the boys. Hell, there’s even a subplot about London auditioning for the role of Batman, a detail so ludicrous that it can’t help but feel knowing.

And that’s perhaps why Good Mourning goes down smoother than it has any right to: the entire enterprise comes across like it can barely believe its own existence. This script was clearly a handful of ideas jotted down between MGK and Mod Sun during various smoke sessions. Of course, it’s not surprising that most of them fail — inside jokes rarely work outside of a core friend group, and that batting average goes down when they are also stoned ramblings. But not a moment of Good Mourning feels mean-spirited: MGK may not possess anything resembling comedic timing, but he does have a certain amount of amiability, and he appears to genuinely enjoy the time he gets to spend with his buds on a Hollywood studio’s dime, the welcome sense of joy effectively communicated to viewers. And despite all the groaners, there are also some legitimate laughs strewn throughout, although most have nothing to do with the various C-level stars MGK somehow managed to snag, including Dennis Rodman, Danny Trejo, Tom Arnold, and Avril Lavigne, all of whom pop up for a second or two and look mostly uncomfortable. (Yes, Pete Davidson is here as well, because of course he is). Still, one has to give credit to a movie that manages to make the always abrasive Whitney Cummings not only semi-tolerable, but occasionally even humorous. And even the film’s ending is rather ballsy in its own bonkers way. Good Mourning certainly won’t be remembered as some sort of comedy classic, stoner or otherwise, but there are certainly worse ways to spend 90 minutes. For the moment, consider this critic Team MGK.