Thursday, February 09, 2006

Grand Theft Parsons (2003)

A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 2005

History of rock music is rich, and, sadly, some of this richness comes from many tragic tales of talented artists ending their lives prematurely. Among those sad stories few are as bizarre as the tale that inspired the plot of GRAND THEFT PARSONS, 2003 film directed by David Caffrey.

The film begins with Gram Parsons (played by Gabriel Macht), brilliant country and rock musician, fatally overdosing in September 1973. The news prompts Parsons' road manager and best friend Phil Kaufman (played by Johnny Knoxville) to act upon the pact he had made with the dead rock star and have his body cremated in Joshua Tree National Park. At the same time Parsons' father Stanley (played by Robert Forster) wants to have his son buried in Lousiana. Before that happens, Phil enlists the help of hippie hearse driver Larry Oster-Berg (played by Michael Shannon) and steals the coffin from LAX. As they drive towards Parsons' resting place in the desert, they are pursued not only by police and Parsons' father, but also by Parson's gold-digging ex-girlfriend Barbara (played by Christina Applegate) who desperately needs a proof of Parsons' death in order to claim his fortune.

GRAND THEFT PARSONS is shot with low budget and it shows through rather un-spectacular and over-used sets and locations. The filmmakers nevertheless made the decent job of recreating the period. The plot - although not particularly strong nor very funny, despite some truly bizarre situations - flows nicely. More importantly, characters look human and audience can sympathise with them. Johnny Knoxville is impressive in one of his first "real" roles. Michael Shannon and Robert Forster are also good in their roles, preventing the film to overdose on comedy or tragedy. Christina Applegate and her annoying character, on the other hand, is unnecessary addition to the film. Probably the biggest flaw of the film is failure to introduce Gram Parsons' music to the younger audiences. However, those who watch GRAND THEFT PARSONS might conclude that there are worse ways to pay respect to music legends.

RATING: 5/10 (++)


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