Directed by Alexandre Rockwell
Starring Peter Dinklage, Mark Boone Junior and Tim Roth
Runtime 97min - Unrated (PG-13 level)
3 Stars (out of 4)
Now available on DVD and V.O.D platforms. Links available at bottom of post.
|Peter Dinklage as K.C.|
Pete Smalls (Roth), K.C. (Dinklage) and Jack (Junior) are three estranged friends that set out in search of Hollywood success many moons ago. The movie opens with the news of Smalls' death which is the catalyst for the rest of the film. Despite the title, K.C. is really the main character. When we first meet him, he's having his nose busted by a loan shark to whom he owes $10,000. When his old friend Jack calls to invite him to Smalls' funeral, K.C. is hesitant. Jack promises that he'll front him the 10 grand if K.C. will just come out to Pete's services. With a big gambling debt and a struggling business, he can't say no.
Upon landing in L.A. things get off to a rough start. Jack is two hours late when he arrives to pick up K.C. on a moped. He gives K.C. a football helmet to keep him safe on their journey. This is not the kind of behavior one would hope to see from a man promising to bail you out of debt. Jack assures him that the moped is just a loaner because his car is in the shop. I'm not from L.A., but I've never seen an insurance agency use a moped as a loaner vehicle. This must have been an ordinance passed by the "Governator's" administration.
The movie hasn't had much buzz. It currently has a 5.1 rating on IMDB. That's probably because the plot derails from the beginning. K.C. narrates the film in a classic noir style and the film progresses noir-ishly as well. If you are a fan of that genre, then a loose plot is something you're familiar with. "The Big Sleep" is considered one of the finest films in the classic film-noir style. It's a 1946 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. While widely hailed as an all-time great, it's almost universally agreed upon that the plot is incomprehensible. Even the screenwriter of that film couldn't put all the pieces together. "Pete Smalls" unfolds in that same style. So many things are unraveled that it would be impossible to tie up every loose end.
Regardless of the weak storytelling, the movie is quite enjoyable. The characters are all wonderfully strange. The inimitable Steve Buscemi makes an appearance as a sex-crazed wannabe movie producer who claims to have connections to big money. Buscemi is always a welcome sight in a movie that celebrates eccentric characters.
K.C.'s loan shark stole his dog since he couldn't pay the 10 thousand. It's the dog that motivates K.C. to stick with Jack in the face of obvious doubts. While in L.A. we learn that Pete Smalls' swan song was a movie written by K.C. This is an opportunity that promises a hefty payday if he can sell the rights to the film. Selling the film proves to be a big challenge that involves numerous shady producers and an Armenian secret society. The theft of his dog Buddha may also be tied into the plot in a bigger way than first imagined. You can see how this might all be hard to follow.
Pete Smalls Is Dead - Trailer
If you've seen the trailers then you probably already know Pete Smalls is most certainly not dead. There are allusions to him being alive early on in the film. It's no big shock when he makes his grand entrance during the climax of the film. Even K.C. has a negligible reaction to Smalls' resurrection.
The lack of surprise isn't a detriment. The destination is unimportant. This film is all about the journey. The ill-weaved plot didn't bother me because the individual situations were hilarious and well acted.
Mark Boone Junior is a big part of this film's appeal and I would be negligent not to mention his performance. Readers may know him best as Bobby from "Sons of Anarchy". Thinking of him as a biker makes the moped scenes much funnier. Dinklage and Junior have a sort of Abbott and Costello relationship. Dinklage's character is serious and logical whilst Junior plays a goofball with good intentions, big dreams, big plans and a blindness to reality. The two actors pair well together and I hope they coordinate their efforts again someday.
While it's not a great film, I was always entertained. Comedy is usually divisive because humor is such a personal taste. The sense of humor in "Pete Smalls Is Dead" was a good match to my own. I'd suggest to anyone who favors a Coen brothers-style comedy.
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