Thursday, March 01, 2007


With a fixed eye on Preston Sturges/Norman Rockwell Americana and a plot that can accurately be described as"Field of Dreams" meets "The World's Fastest Indian" meets "Apollo 13," this debut "mainstream" confection from the quirky Polish Brothers seems to have as it's ultimate goal a comfy DVD future as a perennial Father's Day gift. In those respects it succeeds, but it also works a lot better than it's cutesy-poo premise - a would-be NASA man turned Texas rancher/dad builds a rocket in his barn to try and make the trip on his own, enlisting his wife and moppets as "mission control" and defying a concerned government - might lead you to believe. Billy Bob Thornton feels authentic in the lead, walking the line between dreamer and nutcase just deftly enough that we can sympathize with those who point out how insane his plan seems; think "The Rookie" as-directed by the Coen Brothers. Little too long and over-complicated in the middle, but it's heart is in the right place.

Great atmosphere, nicely darkened turn by Jim Carrey, solid casting all around, looks and feels great, well paced by Joel Schumacher. Just one widdle-iddle thing... Hollywood? May I have you're attention, please? Listen to me carefully: STOP. USING. THIS. TWIST!!!! NOBODY IS SURPRISED BY THIS ANYMORE! IT'S THE FIRST THING WE THINK OF NOW! KNOCK IT OFF! Ahem. Also, no character in any movie ever should be named "Fingerling." Otherwise, not so bad at all.

Some semi-improv "mockumentary" sketch comedy bits are just begging to be expanded into the comic breathing room of a feature film. See: "Borat." Others CAN work as features, but don't really need the room and can come off a little awkwardly. See: This. But see it anyway, because even though there's bits here that just don't work, like some generic ribbing of "Scarface" worship, it's still every bit as funny as the cult-hit Comedy Central spoof of "Cops"-style reality-police shows it's based on. The dysfunctional Reno cops head for a Police convention in Miami and wind up defending the town on their own when a bioterror attack quarrantines every other cop in the area. Much hilarity ensues, thanks to the comfy and talented cast plus a smile-inducing lineup of cameos including Danny DeVito, Patton Oswalt and a certain action star who's appearance I wouldn't want to spoil.