“Bad Lucky Goat” is funnier and sunnier than any movie that opens with a decapitated goat’s head floating in the Caribbean has any right to be.
It’s “Weekend at Bernie’s” with a billy goat — “Weekend at Billy’s” — set on a remote Caribbean island where the people are as musical as their English Creole patois. Throw in a little voodoo, DIY jug band and washboard bass band interludes, and this laugh-out-loud charmer becomes the next best thing to a trip to the islands.
The island in this case in Colombia’s Providencia, closer to Nicaragua but not exactly close to anywhere. The pace of life may be slow, but there’s a lot of living going on in those eight square miles in the middle of the gin-clear Caribbean.
Corn (Honlenny Huffington) is a teenager who loves music and has big ambitions — as big as the island allows, or as big as anybody whose instrument is a harmonica can dream.
We meet him as he and a pal are warning drivers of a speed trap on one of the island’s few roads. One holds up a sign of warning, the second collects tips just after the warned drivers have passed the speed-gun equipped cop.
Corn’s parents run the tiny, homey Hotel Denton, and mom Pauline (Arelis Fonseca) needs him to run out and fetch some benches. The problem with that? He’s got to do that with sister Rita (Kiara Howard). These two can’t stand each other.
They’re bickering in Dad’s truck on their way to get those benches when, unbeknownst to them, a goat tied to a “Blair Witch Project” altar of sacrifice (stick triangles, etc) on a mountaintop gets loose. If you’re yelling at your brother, you’re not watching the road.
The rest of the movie is a picaresque odyssey in which the feuding siblings have to figure out what to do with the goat and how to get the family truck fixed. They venture from a butcher to a pawnbroker (he uses a one-minute hourglass to haggle), drop in on a mangrove pool jug band and a cockfight, bartering with meat and goatskin, bickering every step of the way.
They’re on foot or in a truck, on a motorbike or in a motorized skiff as they stumble through “bad luck” that includes a kidnapping, robbing from a church collection plate and some pretty serious superstition. No, the “Blair Witch” won’t get them. “The Ghoul” might.
Corn is counseled to “keep the spiritual vibe” (in Creole/English/Spanish/Caribbean with English subtitles) and “just be patient with” this quarrelsome sibling. Rita has to get over her “materialism” and maybe take her slacker-brother and his “music” more seriously.
And even when it’s not laugh-out-loud funny, it is amusing and utterly disarming.
First-time writer/director Samir Oliveros, working with untrained actors on a dazzling, unfilmed location, has delivered a lucky charm of a movie about a dead, “Bad Lucky Goat,” now on on Film Movement + (you can find it on Amazon, too).
MPAA Rating: unrated, with a dead goat and a cockfight scene, some profanity
Cast: Honlenny Huffington, Kiara Howard, Elkin Robinson, Jean Bush Howard, Arelis Fonseca and Eduardo Cantillo
Credits: Written and directed by Samir Oliveros. A Film Movement release.
Running time: 1:16