By Richard Winters
My Rating: 3 out of 10
4-Word Review: Karen Black is funny.
Clarence Laidlaw (Hoyt Axton) returns home from the war to find that is his son Everett (Christopher Rydell) does not want to speak to him due to certain felonies that he supposedly committed before he left. Meanwhile Everett romances Judy (Pamela Springsteen) while also agreeing to deliver a hatbox filled with secret items for his kooky Aunt Zelma (Karen Black) that may entail the transfer of stolen money.
The film moves along too slowly with a storyline that borders on being almost nonexistent. The movie seems to want to focus on the interactions of the slightly offbeat small town characters, but none of them are interesting enough and their dialogue is not funny enough to be engaging. The recreation of the 1940’s is okay on a low budget level, but there have been so many more bigger budgeted movies that have created a much richer more vivid portrait of Americana that watching this or even the reason behind making it seems unnecessary.
The eclectic cast is interesting, but straddled with such limp material that they have nowhere to go with it. Art Hindle, Moses Gunn, Ruth Buzzi, Nina Foch, and even Tina Louise appear although it is in a very small role. Rydell as the young lead seems misplaced as his hairstyle looks more like an 80’s cut and his pouty, moody, detached behavior seems suited for a more modern era.
Black is a lot of fun and is the one good thing about the movie as she adds a lot of much needed energy. Her over-the-top screams and mannerisms even had me chuckling in a few places particularly at her attempts at bowling. She also had me convinced that she had a knack for comedy and should’ve done more of it. However, like with Rydell her character didn’t seem right for the time period especially with her bleached frizzy hair and her flirtatious and outspoken manner.
Axton’s laid-back style and smooth sounding voice is great for when he is doing one of his ballads, but as a lead actor he is almost lifeless. His graying hair made him seem more like Foch’s husband instead of her son.
There is almost no action to speak of until the very end when director Don Cato implements a forced, slapstick-like car chase that is out-of-sync with the tone of the rest of the film. This takes place during some unexplained supernatural wind storm that makes no sense and pretty much cements this thing as being a poorly realized waste of celluloid.
My Rating: 3 out of 10
Released: May 3, 1988
Runtime: 1Hour 23Minutes
Director: Don Cato