“Easy Does It” sets out to be a pleasantly jokey and junkie homage to the “on the lam” road trip thrillers of the ’70s.
It’s got the period music (cover versions), two yahoo partners in crime, the ’60s vintage Mustang, the cheesy split-screen editing covering the chases (not really) and the various protagonists, something we saw in ’70s movies from “Vanishing Point” and “Sugarland Express” to “Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry.”
Linda Hamilton shows up with gold-tooth and braided hair as a fearsome small town rackets boss named King George.
But try as they might — and they never let us forget they’re trying too hard — co-stars Ben Matheny and Matthew Paul Martinez, with Cory Dumesnil as a nerdy-goofy “hostage” in tow, can’t get this clunker across one state line, much less all the way across the country, from BFE, Mississippi to San Clemente, Cali-forny.
Jack (Matheny, who co-wrote the script) and Scottie (Martinez) are a couple of bungling hustlers who can’t even “fix” a bare knuckle back-alley fight in their little corner ’70s Redneckiana.
They wash dishes down at a greasy spoon, live in an old and under-sized Airstream and dream of getting out, and getting out from under King George, whom everybody in the county seems to owe money.
“Lazy white (trailer) trash” they may be — “Hey, I’m half APACHE!” — and flat broke, to boot. But a cryptic postcard from mumble-mouthed Big Talker Jack convinces him his momma’s left him something, a treasure maybe, way out in San Clemente, where Richard Nixon is about to go into exile.
There are no secrets in Aberdeen. So they have to lie their way out of the “You skipping out on me?” run-in with King George. But how can you drive a ’60s Mustang 2100 miles with no cash money?
“We’re good people. They’ll help us out,” Jack opines.
So, “gas’n dash” at the local Stump’n Pump, for starters? Only it goes wrong. And this meddlesome carless customer, Collin (Dumesnil) gets in the middle of it.
“Let us gas-up or the dork gets it!” or words to that effect ensue. And they’re off, bluffing and bungling and crime-spreeing their way West.
Inept law enforcement is on their tails (not really). But so is King George’s enforcer, the fearsomely butch Blue Eyes (Susan Gordon), who happens to be the King’s daughter.
Snippets of a period-correct (sort of) documentary about what yokels think “American dream” means are intercut with the misadventures. Fireworks and firearms play their part.
“Round here, due process is a bullet” might be the best line.
We catch the voices of John Goodman and Harry Shearer as drawling radio ball game announcers.
And here’s what I laughed at. King George turns up in the back seat of their Mustang, full of threats and driving instruction way back in Aberdeen.
“Use yer GOD-d—–d TURN signal!” she barks.
That’s it, the comic highlight of the picture, and it’s early in the first act. Hamilton’s character turns up in asides, or “meanwhile, back in Aberdeen” updates, which justifies her billing.
I guess that career-bounce from “Terminator the Last” didn’t take. At least she got this movie noticed and into a lot of minor film festivals.
There may have been funny lines from co-writer and co-star Matheny, but his articulation is so bad I couldn’t make out much of what he says after the first act. And I grew up in the South.
So, all due respect to filmgoers at the Rockport (Illinois) Film Festival, who named “Easy Does It” “best narrative feature,” but you all need to get out more.
MPAA Rating: unrated, mayhem etc.
Cast: Ben Matheny, Matthew Paul Martinez, Cory Dumesnil, Susan Gordon and Linda Hamilton.
Credits: Directed by Will Addison, script by Will Addison, Ben Matheny. A Gravitas Ventures release.
Running time: 1:35