Greetings again from the darkness. Lynn Shelton has put together a very successful career that began with her contributions to the early days of mumblecore (Andrew Bujalski, the Duplass brothers, et al). Along with her filmmaking, she has mixed in some fine TV work, including multiple episodes of “GLOW”, “Fresh Off the Boat”, and “New Girl”. This time out, with a script she co-wrote with Mike O’Brien, she stays true to her offbeat roots and love of characters with character.
There is a story here, and in fact, it was the synopsis that contributed to me agreeing to review this one … well that, and the previous work of Ms. Shelton. Cynthia (Jillian Bell) and her partner Mary (Michaela Watkins) have returned to Alabama with the expectation of inheriting Cynthia’s grandfather’s house. Instead of the house, Cynthia instead walks away with an antique sword, whose accompanying drawing and handwritten letter supposedly prove that the South won the Civil War.
A visit to Mel’s Pawn Shop begins the process of finding a buyer for the sword. Cranky Mel is played by Marc Maron, best known for his stand-up comedy. As a shop owner, he seems constantly annoyed by his dim bulb employee Nathaniel (Jon Bass). The two couldn’t be more different, as Nathaniel spends his work days plugged into conspiracy podcasts (including one run by the film’s co-writer Mike O’Brien in a quick cameo). However, it’s Nathaniel that discovers the “truthers” who believe the ‘South won the war’, and are the best possible fit as buyers for Cynthia’s sword.
Director Shelton makes an appearance as Deirdre, Mel’s former lover. As a couple, their rocky history includes significant drug use and little contribution to society. Also appearing is Toby Huss as Hog Jaws, the oddball middleman involved with the sword transaction. “Seinfeld” fans will recall Mr. Huss as “The Wiz” from that popular show.
This is a deep cut indie, and the humor will either appeal to you or you’ll find it absolutely absurd (or maybe both). The entertainment is derived from the ‘little’ moments and the manner in which the characters interact. It appears many scenes were improvised, a trait of early Shelton projects, and with such talented comedy actors, it’s no wonder. The offbeat story simply exists to give these actors a reason to be funny … something they do quite well.
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