4 Stars
Year Released: 2010
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 79 minutes
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Sal and Mel are the go-to guys for your mowing needs. Sal is saving money to fulfill a lifelong dream of going to the Amazon, while Mel’s ambition is, arguably, even more lofty: to manage the White House lawn. They even have a nifty new commercial designed to get even more business. Clearly these energetic young go-getters are at the top of their game.

That is, until someone starts stealing S&M’s hard-earned lawns. It isn’t one-time competitor Richie, who claims he’s still adhering to the tenets of the 1995 Lawn Care Treaty. Further investigation unearths their adversary is none other than the sleazy Drake (Brand Rackley), who actually appears to be using post-1998 software for his commercial. More importantly, his assistants are definitely hotter than either Sal or Mel, leaving the two wondering if they’ll still be able to realize their dreams.

“S&M Lawn Care” is the third feature from Singletree Productions, and while it maintains a healthy portion of the irreverence of previous films “The Stanton Family Grave Robbery” and “Simmons on Vinyl,” there’s introspection in “S&M” as well. Amidst the puke gags and…interesting interlude regarding Sal (Cole Selix) encountering his spirit totem at his day job selling cookies at the mall, there are some bittersweet elements. After all, “Lawns By Drake” is an allegory for every indie filmmaker’s nemesis: the flashy, well-funded guy who opts for glitz and ass over substance.

Let’s face it, it’s hard to compete with the Drakes of the world, with their superior production values, hot chicks, and charitable contributions (Drake donates his used lawn mowers to the “Darfurinians”). Sal and Mel finally come to realize, as many of us should, that a spirited dirty tricks campaign if the best recourse.

I won’t lie, I’ve been a fan of the Singletree guys since I caught “Stanton” in 2008, and have come to expect certain things: Selix will always remind me of a funnier, less asshole version of Seth Rogen, Rackley can play the villain (as he does here) as well as the sympathetic Everyman (as in “Simmons”), and co-writer/director/actor Mark Potts (“Mel”) continues to impress. I’m not just talking about his maturation as a filmmaker over the last few years, but also the balls involved in shooting the dream sequence scene on the White House lawn, with a cameo I won’t spoil here that nonetheless had me laughing my ass off.

Fans of movie comedy are kind of screwed these days. Your primary choices are the increasingly maudlin Adam Sandler, the increasingly irrelevant Ben Stiller, and the grotesque Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Potts and the rest of the Singletree crew face an uphill battle against the Drakes of the film world, but if there’s anything resembling justice in the world of cinema, they’ll get their chance.

Posted on September 20, 2010 in Reviews by

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