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An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn Movie Review

Do Miss "An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn"

Director Jim Hosking's sophomore effort, "An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn" bears imprints of David Lynch, the Marx Brothers, John Hughes, Napoleon Dynamite, and maybe even Goddard but never gels as a good parody, black comedy, anti-comedy, or some new revelation. Instead, Hosking seems more interested in staging pretentiously absurd vignettes than in weaving them together into a whole.

Lulu (Aubrey Plaza, Legion) works in a cafe with two friendly losers, Carl (Sky Elobar) and Tyrone (Zach Cherry, You). The three are managed by Lulu's husband, Shane Danger (Emile Hirsch, "Lone Survivor"). When a bean counter from the head office instructs Shane to cut staff, he gives Lulu her walking papers.

Unemployed and bored, Lulu complains about their TV to Shane and suggests she ask her brother, Adjay (Sam Dissanayake), if they can borrow money from his cash box to buy a new one. Events follow in quick succession: Lulu sees a commercial for "An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn," and recognizes Beverly (Craig Robinson, "Hot Tub Time Machine") as her long-lost, true love; there is a robbery, with repercussions, and suddenly Lulu is on the run with itinerant gunman Colin (Jemaine Clement, Flight of the Conchords) and headed to the Morehouse Hotel, where Beverly Luff Linn is to perform "for one magical night."

The remainder of the movie is set in the hotel, as the performance is postponed for two days and Lulu's attempts to make contact with Beverly are repeatedly thwarted by his handler, Rodney Von Donkensteige (Matt Berry).

The best that can be hoped for "An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn" is that a growler of hipsters a decade from now will bend an ear to their favorite film of their youth, best enjoyed in repeated viewings with a 20 bag of Millennial Pink. But cult status may be more than "Evening" can expect. With a thin plot and a focus on vignettes, the film has to be judged by its players, dialogue, and the success of the production design and mise en scenes.

Aubrey Plaza has fun bouncing between styles. She is best playing the deadpan slacker. She is winning when playing the assured and inviting love interest, ala Sally Fields opposite Burt Reynolds, as when she encourages Colin to tell the story of Colin. In love with Beverly but on the fence with Colin, Plaza embraces taking Molly Ringwald-esque teen outbursts to eleven. Her character is the center here, but it, like the film, does not hold together when the vignettes are stitched together.

Jemaine Clement is the best part of the film. He is perfect in nearly every scene, whether telling the history of his name, confessing to sleeping with a prostitute, getting in a hot tub with Lulu, or eating cheesy onion rings. Filling out the lead roles, Matt Berry is also consistently funny.

Sam Dissanayake's cartoonish Adjay, with his fully-hennaed receding hairline, overall shorts and work boots, screaming all of his lines, steals most of his scenes. Craig Robinson is great but sorely underused, since a plot device renders him mute for most of the film. Unfortunately, Emile Hirsch as the ever-agitated Shane Danger is ever-agitating, his channeling of Jack Black less successful than Christian Slater's Jack Nicholson in "Heathers."

Hosking's production style is consistent, and the world he creates looks like a slice from the 1980s, depressed and exaggerated. Funny wigs are the order of the day. Many of the remaining players could have been poached from casting lists of David Lynch productions or of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim's roll call for "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" Despite memorable characters like Valerie from the laundromat; "The Captain," who tends bar; and Kennedy Gordon, the hotel manager, Hosking only manages to deliver mild amusement.

Overall, "An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn" is a stylized fail. It has some laugh out loud bits, but even Aubrey Plaza and Jemaine Clement cannot make up for writing that can't sustain a 108 minute run time.



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