Marty is lonely, he’s broke, he’s ugly, he’s mean. He’s the type of guy that you hope you never become. He’s lost in the midwest in an endless purgatory of bland offices, convenience stores and messy basements.
You can either be disgusted or intrigued when he pours Cool Ranch Doritos on a Tostino’s pizza, then drowns the whole plate in ranch. He eats like an American.
Marty’s life is in a constant state of ruin where rock bottom has no meaning. You can hit rock bottom over and over again and still survive, no matter how hard your cranium smacks the pavement. If you know how to lie, you know how to survive.
At his most pathetic, we see him lying through his teeth in an attempt to keep his mom off his back. “I’m happy now. Everybody likes me.”
Marty is first seen smashing a busted Nintendo Power Glove against a wooden crate. He’s yelling, and it’s immediately obvious that he’s unhinged.
Later on, he remodels the glove so it resembles Freddy Kreuger’s famous handwear. He wants to be gone, and the easiest way to achieve that goal is to become terrifying. He confronts nothingness and nothingness confronts him.
As the movie goes on, he falls deeper into paranoia and psychosis. His schemes and scams become increasingly bold and reckless. His only dalliance with joy comes in the form of a plate of room service spaghetti bought with stolen money.
He cashes other people’s checks, returns office supplies he bought with company money, eats his only friend’s last two Hot Pockets and eventually turns violent.
When he comes to the end of the line, all he can think to do is run. He sprints down the streets of Detroit, wearing his Power Glove and blasting heavy metal.
In the end, nothing is real. He watches himself run away on a TV set up in a window display. The store is going out of business.
He doesn’t know what he’s done, and he probably never will. He only knows how to forget, and his only salvation is that maybe everyone else will forget him too.