Directed by Katrina Holden Bronson. Starring Johnny Knoxville, Elizabeth Banks, Juliette Lewis, David Koechner, Kick Gurry, James Parks, Sophie Traub. (2005, PG-13, 100 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Sept. 23, 2005
Currently tied for first in Miramax’s "What the fuck?" category with horror snore Venom is this bizarre oddity, which boasts Quentin Tarantino as co-executive producer but falls about as far from that particular tree as one can imagine. Those expecting some of QT’s nonnegotiable flair to crop up will find their patience sorely tested by this slapdash tale of wacky Southerners and midlife crises that boasts several fine performances but, on the whole, feels like a compilation reel of Blue Collar TV outtakes and Coen Brothers-lite quirkiness. Knoxville plays the titular scoundrel Calhoun, a Southern seed-and-sod magnate who in reality is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. When the ex (Banks) he left 15 years before shows up unannounced with his daughter June (Traub) in tow, the former pot dealer and current Duckville, Tenn., gadabout must come to terms with his past while facing up to his future (and so forth). Bronson’s directorial skills are not in question – the film has an easygoing, South-of-the-Mason-Dixon-line charm to it, but it’s snookered by overly broad performances from ham-salad recidivist Lewis, playing a love-struck Calhoun fan, and Knoxville’s own toothy, Southern clunkiness, which too often verges on parody before scuttling back to the dramedy landfill from whence it done came, y’all. Traub, as the littlest Calhoun, pulls out all the hormonal teenage stops and does it well, but like everyone else here she’s fighting an uphill battle against a story that’s just too convoluted and confused to do anyone any good. "Get high on grass … the legal kind!" is sodbuster Daltry’s oft-repeated television tagline, but that’s about the only chuckle the movie can induce. In a film this chock-full o’ nuts, Lewis takes the proverbial cake; her sporting-goods saleswoman Flora plays like an adulterated version of her libidinous Cape Fear breakthrough, all thumbsucky sizzle and estrogenic lust that nonetheless fails to make much more of an impression than a flat tire on summer hardpan. Daltry Calhoun’s saving grace comes in the form of a snappy compilation soundtrack that spans from Johnny Cash to Serge Gainsbourg, a feat of all-inclusiveness that renders the film a moot point at best.