Film Review: An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn (2018)

Things aren’t going great for Lulu Danger (Aubrey Plaza) when her manager and husband Shane (Emile Hirsch) fires her from the crappy restaurant diner they work at. While he complains about finances at home Lulu passively aggressively suggests she could have her brother buy them a new TV. The next day Shane robs that same brother’s convenience store. In revenge the grocer brother, clearly South Asian and not related to Lulu, hires a hitman (Jemaine Clement) to get his money back. Lulu shakes things up by running off with him.

From here, things get weird. The pair stay at a hotel, also inhabited by the travelling performer Beverly Luff Linn (Craig Robinson). There’s a myriad of tension – mostly sexual, as Clement’s character attempts to bed Lulu, despite Lulu clearly having some intense chemistry with the mute Beverly. Beverly is likewise enthralled by Lulu but never has an opportunity for one on one time due to the constant presence of manager/partner Rodney Von Donkensteiger (Matt Berry).

This is Napoleon Dynamitesque humour. Flat, obscure and understated. Unfortunately it’s not quite at the same level as the cult classic. It’s forced, noticeably so. Aiming for ironically bad, it fails the ironic part. (For an example of ironically bad working see the woefully underrated Eagle vs Shark). Emile Hirsch has probably been miscast in this, unable to do socially awkward with any realism.  A much better fit would be Tim Heidecker; the script certainly feels like it was  influenced by his work. Craig Robinson’s character, who primarily expresses himself with frankensteinian grunts and occasionally flatulence, also could use re working.

All the bit actors have their awkward traits exaggerated. They are often directed to deliver lines in yelling tones, out of context, something the main cast mostly avoids. Some of the material works, usually due to the talents of Clement who has a habit of popping up in wannabe cult classics, but most of it is meh. The small parts that work are akin to the brilliant work of Tim and Eric; the majority is like a montage of the worst of B characters from Adam Sandler films post 2005. There is a lot of potential from sophomoric director/writer Jim Hoskin, and co writer David Wike. It’s hard to see what they’re aiming for. If it’s a film so bad it’s sometimes good but mostly bad, then he got there.

The production and cinematography is fantastic; there’s a hint of noir within the hotel. But the screenplay and direction really lets this down. This is the film equivalent of that wildly talented person you know who never takes anything seriously and fails purposely because they know genuinely trying and failing is too much to handle. The line up is a dream team of comedic scene stealers with the likes of Clement, Plaza, Robinson, Berry, and I haven’t even mentioned Maria Bamford. This falls very far below the bar of excellence they bring with them. Taking absurdity to wildly mediocre levels, the film fails to live up to its potential.

An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn screens as part of Paracinema Fest which runs from 29th November to 5th December at Lido, Classic and Cameo Cinemas.

1.5 blergs

 

 

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