by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Johnny Knoxville as DALTRY CALHOUN
Juliette Lewis as FLORA
Elizabeth Banks as MAY
Kick Gurry as FRANKIE
David Koechner as DOYLE EARL
Sophie Traub as JUNE
Directed by: Katrina Holden Bronson
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I get really tired of elitist filmmakers declaring their love for an area of this country – like the South – who then make a movie that portrays the people there as the most ignorant, stupid, inbred folks around.
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Director Katrina Holden Bronson paints one of the most depressing, pathetic pictures of the American South in “Daltry Calhoun.” Not only does this come across in the actual film, but in the special features. During the feature commentary, she brags about how they were able to get a house for filming by paying only a couple hundred dollars and pouring a concrete slab over their dirt lawn.
This is not to say that the South doesn’t have it’s fair share of idiots. It does – just like everywhere else in this country. However, the elitist attitude and superiorness of Southern California comes out through every aspect of this movie.
I’m sure the filmmakers think they are paying respect to the simple folks leading a simple life, but it just comes across as grossly ignorant and painfully insulting. I’ve traveled many places in this country, and I’ve found the same aimlessness and ignorance in the heart of L.A. as I have found in fly-over country.
“Daltry Calhoun” isn’t as much about the lead character, played by Johnny Knoxville, as it is about his daughter June (Sophie Traub). Years ago, Daltry and June’s mother May (Elizabeth Banks) split. Daltry went on to develop a golf course grass from cannabis, becoming a wealthy man in the tiny town of Ducktown, Tennessee. When June is fourteen, her mother takes her to meet her father. We learn that May has cancer and will die soon. She wants Daltry to finish raising June, helping her achieve her dream of going to Julliard.
There’s very little substance to this story, and the characters just sort of wallow around in their own problems. By the end, things wrap up so nicely, it’s a wonder that there were ever any problems with them originally. Things are far too neat in the story, which capped the film off with a bad taste.
The name that pops on the cover of this film more than anything else is executive producer Quentin Tarantino, who is quickly becoming a crap producer. Sure, he’s got “Hostel” under his belt, but he’s also lending his name to oodles of weak indie films just to secure financing. It’d be nice if Tarantino would go back to making his own films (which are usually pretty doggoned good) rather than helping out young filmmakers to produce garbage.
Johnny Knoxville seems completely out of place in this movie. On one hand, he’s playing off of his “Jackass” fame to be a legal pot dealer, but he’s also trying like crazy to be an on-screen dad. It’s not that Knoxville is a bad actor. He can actually do pretty well in the dramatic department, but he’s got nothing to work with here. Other embarrassing performances are by Juliette Lewis and David Koechner, who rip through some of the biggest redneck impressions I’ve seen in a long time.
The only gem of the bunch is newcomer Sophie Traub, who actually carries the film. Her weak parts, including some annoying and preachy narration, aren’t her fault as much as writer/director Bronson. It’ll be nice to see Traub develop into a career. Just don’t hold “Daltry Calhoun” against her.
The DVD has a nice assortment of special features, including a commentary with Bronson and Tarantino. There’s a selection of sometimes funny bloopers and a slate of deleted scenes with optional commentary. The making-of featurette is a slop fest with filmmakers and cast just talking about how great each other is, rather than actually giving insight into the film.
In addition to a music video and the theatrical trailer, there is also a small segment about the “B Team,” which includes Lewis, Koechner and Kick Gurry. This is nothing more than an inside joke told by the bumbling actors in their off-screen moments. In some ways, they seem so clueless here that it’s a wonder if they were even acting to portray the idjuts they do in the film.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (2.35:1) – Enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Spanish subtitles. English subtitles for the hearing impaired.