After a promising high-octane opening featuring a cuckolded gunslinger wailing on an occupied pickup truck with a bat, this comedy settles down into a rather dull groove following an ensemble case on a two day trek across the desert. There are actually three separate couples trudging through the sand on three separate quests. A pair of workmen, one of whom has been putting it to the boss’ wife, are chased into the wilderness in the opening credit sequence. Their truck breaks down and they need to find transportation before their water runs out. Next we are greeted with French accordion music alerting us to the appearance of a crassly stereotyped foreign photographer who has kidnapped a willowy blond and who fancies that his greatest achievement will be to document a murder/suicide in the desert. Funny stuff! Finally, we meet a man who has orchestrated the more benign kidnapping of his estranged wife, driving her into the desert for the purpose of spending time alone together and rediscovering their romantic roots.
I will say that Ike has injected some clever dialog into the film, some interesting characterizations and a quaint Planet Of The Apes inspired dream sequence, but he has put all his eggs into one basket. Virtually all of this plays out in scenes featuring the two workmen. Gary deals with their predicament by quoting John Wayne movies and launching into Kevin Smith-style observational diatribes. His partner Sallee nervously questions his own sexuality; trying to maintain a vegan lifestyle when the only good eatin’ in the desert seems to be cooked snake. In short, these are interesting characters and the film languishes least while focused on them. The subplots featuring the married couple and the psychotic French photographer are given short shrift by the creativity department. The performances are fine, but their progress is predictable and the characters are drab or annoying. Unfortunately they are given plenty of screen time. Things really fall apart at the climax when all parties meet and are involved in a silly slapstick standoff. There seems to be a lot of ideas crammed into this movie but in the end it feels more empty than full. The film had the potential to be a smart indie sleeper reminiscent of Rubin & Ed. As it stands, watching the film feels a bit too much like walking through the desert waiting for something to happen.
Posted on March 2, 2000 in Reviews by James Sweeney
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