A title you probably half-remember. A DVD cover you might kinda recognise. A semi-famous actor you probably don’t. Time to review it.
Jeremy Sumpter is Gavin Gore, who only has two friends, Hobie Plumber (Hubbel Palmer), and young Maynard Keyes (Rob Pinkston). The three of them fight epic fantasy battles with their home made weapons, much to the chagrin of local muscle heads Zerk Wilder (Justin Long) and Shirts Joachim (Joey Kern), who take great pleasure in taking there weapons and beating them up. Gavin also has a side business loaning out his videos to people for a small fee, the most popular being one featuring Sasquatch expert Dr. Artimus Snodgrass (Carl Weathers – yup, the Carl Weathers).
Despite his own extensive collection, Gavin also rents movies from the video store. He’s a huge fan of 80s fantasy films, a fact that impresses the cashier Sophie (Addie Land). They agree to watch his video together, but he watches it on his own but asks her to start hanging out with him anyway. After some play fighting they go on a nature walk with the gang, and make a remarkable discovery.
That’s because Zerk is in debt due to a years overdue credit card bill (delivered by Stephen Tobolowsky of Groundhog Day and Momento fame), and decided to plant some “Sasquatch dumplings” so he can sell “authentic” Sasquatch footprints. When Gavin and his gang find the big pile of poo first though, they bring in the police and eventually Dr Snodgrass himself. But then petty rivalries start to come up between Gavin and Hobie – and when Sophie starts having doubts about herself and Gavin, things start to get even more complicated. Will Dr Snodgrass find the truth? Can the gang stick together? And will Shirts ever put on a shirt?
In my recent review of Eagle Vs Shark I mentioned it reminded me of a few other indie-type films at times. This is like a blood relative of the leader of that genre, Napoleon Dynamite. Director Tim Skousen was the first unit director on that film, and Jon Heder has a cameo here. If you enjoyed that film you will love this. However, this is more than just a copy cat film. The film is framed with a comic strip style, with scenes repeated from different characters points of view, and it’s a really nice little touch that never feels like a contrivance.
Best of all, the cast of characters is interesting without ever being overly quirky. What are basically supporting characters in Zerk and Shirts are actually the stars of the show, and it’s a fantastic comic performance from Justin Long. Honestly, Long playing basically a muscle head stereotype is brilliant and his delivery of “seriously, your’re having nuggets?” is one of the funniest lines I’ve heard in a long time. Also, any time Carl Weathers is in a film it’s a huge plus, and although it’s a small role, the vague similarities to his stint in Arrested Development as Tobias’ cheapskate acting coach are great. Jeremy Sumpter (who was a young star in Bill Paxton’s Frailty and more famously Peter Pan) is very good as well here, and he’s is still young enough to have a big future.
If this film is sat on your self or is one that you’ve seen recently, or is on a streaming service you legally subscribe to, I suggest you take the plunge and watch it now! It’s a lot of fun, with a nice indie feel to it without ever getting annoying. If you have – or ever had – a love of slightly rubbish fantasy films, you’ll enjoy those references as well. A definite recommendation for anyone looking for something slightly different from their comedy films.
Until next time, stay gold Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.