Saturday, January 9, 2016
DON VERDEAN (2015)
Directed By: Jared Hess
Written By: Jared Hess & Jerusha Hess
Cinematography By: Mattias Troelstrup
Editor: Tanner Christensen
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Jemaine Clement, Amy Ryan, Will Forte, Danny McBride, Leslie Bibb, Steve Park
Hired by an ambitious small-town pastor to find sacred relics in the Holy Land, a self-proclaimed Biblical archaeologist comes up short and his attempt to cover up his failure fuels a comic conspiracy
I really wanted to like this film, not sure if I really did. As it has a good game cast and the usual Jared Hess comedic sensibilities. That seem to be clean and outrageous that sneak up on you upon multiple viewings, but really seem to just pass, rather than be great films.
I can give director Jared Hess credit. As he is an auteur as he is a filmmaker who has had a distinct sense of humor and style of his own
The film's also never seem to be the proper follow up. To what is seen as his cult classic NAPOLEON DYNAMITE.
As you watch the film you can get a sense of where it is going with certain plot elements.
The film has good ideas that somehow don't translate well in the jokes or material. It seems that the film has a chuckle worthy studied sense of humor, that places the ridiculous situations and characters, but when it comes to action only goes so far. Even though it has the set-up and energy to go further.
The film has a more Midwestern dork-ish appeal that somehow doesn't translate to big laughs. As the film feels like an 80's high concept comedy from a independent studio that was part of a major studio, but their films seem more done as a tax write off.
This feels like a movie that is meant for a mainstream audience, but seems more destined to be a cult classic. As it will never quite catch on . As the humor seems dependent more on the details and humor rather then jokes and material. Which is hard as it seems all the ingredients are here and the characters are all funny and likeable to a degree.
The film has it's moments, but never quite gels. As it has many scenes which should be funny but aren't.
The film has a definite style all it's own. And the cast is good and seems up for anything, but surprisingly aren't given enough to do or free reign to create more solid characters. If only they had more to do. So that we could see them function a little more naturally outbid the story and not feel like more dependent plot points.
Couldn't ask for any better then the under used and quite often untapped potential of both Sam Rockwell and Jemaine Clement, here they seem somewhat reigned In and not allowed to fully go off their natural energy. That they usually bring to their roles. Even though Jemaine's talent has always been in more character comedic roles rather then playing someone with a crazy personality or doing hijinks. As he is more subtle. Rockwell is more energetic and makes the crazy seems sane.
This is the second time they both have worked with director Hess. After the similar coming of age comedy GENTLEMAN BRONCOS.
Will forte steals his scenes. As a former Satanist turned preacher. As does Danny McBride in a more restrained role then usual. Which actually shows his range as an actor as well as the fact that he is an impressive one. --The film is always on the precipice of being really good. Considering the subjects he chooses. His films should be on the list of comedic classics. Though secretly I believe though his films play straight. They might secretly be better and funnier if you are under the influence.
Strangely it seems that his films want to be mainstream, but seem more comfortable or at least a better fit in cult status. His films are usually clean with some religious material time to time included. More to make fun of it or show the purity and downtime naivety if the characters.
The material is never really offensive, just a bit dirty time to time. More suggested then shown. So most of Jared Hess's films could be open to family viewing. In fact that is how his films play like family films that seek to be risqué, but end up rather straight laced. Like dirty comedies for religious Christian teenagers. I can't call the films bland as his films seem to be colorful and have a hint of spice. Though tend to not be as funny as they should be.
I still have faith in this director and look forward to his future endeavors.