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Archive for May 14th, 2008

Soooo, a little while ago, I got sent this nifty little screener of an independent film called The Importance of Being Russell.

It’s a hard movie to nail down, but I guess it would best be described as ’50’s sci-fi fare with a healthy dose of redneck comedy with a splash of the comedic sensibilities of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Are you intrigued yet?

Russell is a redneck, down home kind of guy who’s stuck in a rut. His wife Sissy constantly pesters and harangues him; his friends are just sorta…there and he can’t get any of his well-intentioned inventions off the ground. The bane of Russell’s existence is a company called Cranium Concepts which seems to be half a step ahead of him at all times — as soon as Russell dreams up the next invention that could push him to the top, Cranium is already advertising it on TV. To make matters worse, Sissy is constantly buying items from Cranium Concepts, further frustrating poor Russell who only wants to see his inventions get up off the ground. (He later takes out his anger by shooting at a box of Cranium Concepts merchandise delivered to their trailer with a shotgun.) All he does all day is watch TV, be driven up the wall by his wife, and tinker with his inventions in his garage, wondering why he’s not more important than he actually is.

All of a sudden, Russell’s missing time. He can’t remember working on a project but it seems to be building itself. Oh yeah – there’s those strange messages coming from the television and the funny people at the Big City company and Cranium Concepts that keep creeping into his life…and what’s with those funny people with the syringes of glowing green stuff? What is the deal with Big City?

There’s minor problems with The Importance of Being Russell, mainly the fact that the movie’s pace is a little odd and the film takes a little while to get going. The speed of the film in the beginning leaves you wondering a bit at times where and when the movie’s taking off, but when you get to the meat of the film, things flow nicely.

The small problems are just that — small — when juxtaposed what’s really, really good about this film. For an independent feature, I was more than pleasantly surprised to note that the special effects are really quite good. I feel a little bad for the other people in this film because John Pickle, who plays Russell, practically yanks the rug out from under all the other actors. He’s really very good, and he’s not just rehashing the same old tired redneck, nor is he playing a solely one-dimensional character. He puts a lot of heart and nice little quirks and mannerisms to Russell, and practically steals the entire movie.

Also, you can tell the people who made this movie really love their subject matter and the entire movie can be read as an homage of sorts to the days of ’50’s science fiction and comic books (to some extent). They work in some nice throwaway jokes and humor into the film and what you end up with is a fairly original film that has unoriginal aspects, like rednecks, and aliens talking through television sets, but combined makes for a uniquely funny film.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Importance of Being Russell, and I think that if the makers of this film continue on this track, we’ll see bigger and better work from them in the future.

NOW:

Do you want to see The Importance of Being Russell? Don’t get all whiny and tell me that you don’t know how to get it, because I’m helping you out right now: You can find it HERE (scroll down to the title of the film and hit “Play Now”. You need Flash Player 9 installed, FYI, friends.)

If you’d like to check out their official website, you can do so here.

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