Run Goossens, Low-Budget Stuntman is a Dutch comedy that starts off with the titular character Ron (Tim Haars, the brother of one of the filmmakers), a barely conscious alcoholic, who becomes an overnight YouTube sensation after a video of him drunkenly failing a car stunt goes viral. That alone would be enough to set the basic premise of any Hollywood comedy, but in this movie it’s only the beginning. He ends up becoming a real movie stuntman in the hopes of meeting Bo Maerten, a beautiful famous actress, and sleeping with her, which is itself an ultimatum given to him by his bored wife to save their marriage.
A story like that could certainly lend itself to slapstick humour and easy jokes. Not that it doesn’t – there are plenty of pratfalls and sex jokes. But there’s something different about international comedies – Northern European ones in particular, in my experience – compared to their American counterparts. Not only are they more daring, but they tend more towards dark humour in a way that Hollywood either shies away from or avoids entirely, particularly in their approach to more risqué topics. For example, without giving too much away, a running gag of Ron’s bartender friend, Peter (Henry van Loon), having a creepy attraction to younger girls pays off hilariously when he finally has a career change.
The movie does have some style and flair to it. The way it shows its main character blacking out and waking up again is effective, and the way his stuntwork – decidedly unprofessional in its execution – is filmed elicits great audience reactions. But Ron Goossens‘ strengths are definitely in its comedy, which is impressive given how much North Americans will likely miss. As explained by the filmmakers Steffen Haars and Flip Van der Kull, who were in attendance for the screening at the 2017 Fantasia Film Festival, their movie features cameos and appearances by many actors and directors from the Netherlands cinema industry who are playing exaggerated tabloid versions of themselves. The idea is reminiscent of the characters in the American movie This Is the End, but unfortunately this is something that went over the heads of most of the viewers in attendance. They also mentioned that the films-within-the-film were parodies of many of the movies produced in the Netherlands, a lot of which are dramas of real-life events. The humor is strong enough to entertain a North American audience which doesn’t grasp these references.