THE DEATH OF DICK LONG (2019)

September 26, 2019

 Greetings again from the darkness. “It’s Been Awhile” by Staind is the song we first hear from Pink Freud, a garage band formed by buddies Zeke, Earl and Dick. The music is awful, and “band practice” seems to exist solely for the purpose of getting these slackers together, hanging out, and drinking beer. Daniel Scheinert also directed SWISS ARMY MAN (2016) and this first screenplay from Billy Chew shows some real promise for twisted comedy-drama blends. Director Scheinert also plays the titular Mr. Long.

One evening, band practice takes a wrong turn, and Dick ends up dead … unceremoniously dumped in a hospital parking lot by his bandmates. If somehow we previously had any doubts as to the intelligence of Zeke and Earl, all doubt is removed as these two bumbling idiots try to cover up their involvement and what actually happened that night. The cause of death is slow to unfold, but once it does, it surely is the only one of its kind in the history of cinema. The Sheriff (Janelle Cochrane) and her deputy (the talented Sarah Baker) prove equally clueless in their attempts to solve the crime, and much of the film’s humor revolves around folks just not asking quite the right question in any situation.

If you’ve ever wondered what happens when small town Alabama adult moronic rednecks get together, the answer involves beer, pot, fireworks and firearms. None of that will likely surprise you; however, the twist and reveal, hopefully will. I first saw this at the 2019 Dallas International Film Festival, and it’s a tragicomedy that unabashedly offers a tip of the cap to the Coen Brothers.

Michael Abbott Jr plays Zeke and Andre Hyland plays Earl, and their scenes together will have you laughing and questioning human existence. Virginia Newcomb plays Lydia (Zeke’s wife), Jess Weixler is the perplexed wife of Dick, and Sunita Mani is hilarious as Earl’s friend Lake Travis (a name nearly as much of a punchline as the film’s titular character).  While the film has many funny and awkward moments, it can also be taken as a statement on testosterone-driven bad decisions and actions with consequences. If nothing else, we learn how to quickly answer when someone asks, “Y’all wanna get weird?

CAUTION: RED BAND TRAILER (not appropriate for younger viewers):

 

 


THE CAMPAIGN (2012)

August 18, 2012

 Greetings again from the darkness. Director Jay Roach seems to be the perfect guy to direct a political campaign parody during a Presidential election year. He has had plenty of low-brow comedy success with Austin Powers and Meet the Fockers. He then gained credibility with his political sharpness in Recount and Game Change, and he is co-founder of “Funny or Die”. Instead, the movie has the feel of being thrown together during a long weekend with his drinking buddies. Luckily for him, his buddies include Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis.

Revolving around a North Carolina Republican Congressional primary, we are first introduced to a smug Cam Brady (Ferrell), the four term incumbent who expects to run unopposed. Not long after, we learn local twit Marty Huggins (Galifianakis) is entering the race … even though he freezes in front of the camera and has no apparent platform or special issue to support. Of course, that is the one thing both candidates share – the issues aren’t the focus of the movie or their campaign. Rather, this is meant to poke fun at what political campaigning has devolved into, and how we as voters continue to fall for the dirty game of politics.

 We soon learn that the billionaire Motch brothers are financing Marty’s campaign. Their single interest is making more money and they need an indebted politician to help them buy up cheap district land and re-sell it to the Chinese so that cheap labor can be “insourced”. Clearly the Motch brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd) are meant to spoof the real life political power brokers, the Koch Brothers.

Clueless Marty gets help from intense campaign manager guru Tim Whattley (Dylan McDermott) who is there to make him not suck so much. First thing is to re-do Marty’s image … they remodel his house, right down to replacing the family pugs with two more popular breeds. As Marty gets caught up in the campaign fervor, we get the expected results: he drifts from his family, the dirty stuff includes real life political sojourns like drunk driving, sexting, infidelity, false accusations, religious hypocrisy and public embarrassment of the opponents.

The real statement here, if there is one, seems to be that we the voters have allowed political campaigning to turn into a contest of who connects with us and who seems to be like us, rather than a focus on issues present and future. Kissing our baby or attending our county fair shows the candidate is one of us, while in fact, gives no indication of whether the candidate has any true beliefs or understands the issues. There are plenty of laughs in the movie, though it’s not my particular favorite type of comedy (think Talladega Nights). I will especially tip my cap to Zach G for his willingness to do whatever is necessary for a laugh. He is a fearless comedian.

SEE THIS MOVIE IF: if a lightweight parody of political campaigning is just the kind of escapism you are looking for OR you never miss anything from Will Ferrell or Zach Galifianakis, two of the funnier people on the planet.

SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you are expecting a biting expose’ of political campaigning.  It’s not even as deep as HBO’s “Veep”.

watch the trailer (all the funny parts):