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  Evening with Beverly Luff Linn, An Things That Make You Go Hmmm...
Year: 2018
Director: Jim Hosking
Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Jemaine Clement, Emile Hirsch, Craig Robinson, Matt Berry, Zach Cherry, Maria Bamford, Sky Elobar, Michael D. Cohen, Jacob Wysocki, John Kerry, Sam Dissanayake, Bettina Devin, Kristen Krieg, Carl Solomon, Gil Gex, Bruce Paz, Adam Foster
Genre: Comedy, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Shane Danger (Emile Hirsch) runs a coffee shop but is permanently dissatisfied with... well, just about everything, not least his staff, who include his wife Lulu (Aubrey Plaza) who he still lusts after even though she is making it clear she has lost interest in him. One day a man from head office arrives to tell Shane that there is a cost-cutting exercise going on, and he will have to shed one of his employees, so he immediately and without qualms chooses Lulu, which frustrates her because she thinks she will now have to sit on the sofa all day, getting fat while watching television. Shane, meanwhile, hatches a scheme to make up for the lost income: he will rob his brother-in-law (Sam Dissanayake).

Director Jim Hosking's first effort to make an impact on the film scene was The Greasy Strangler, which found viewers thanks to its resemblance to a horror movie therefore its bad taste would be excused by a certain portion of the audience. An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn proved, if anything, even more divisive, for he had none of his horror tropes to fall back on: this was his idea of a comedy, and you had to be particularly attuned to his sensibilities to find any of it in the slightest bit amusing. Yet for all those misgivings the mass audience had that would have been more understandable if he had opted for horror, this was probably a better film as it refined his style.

Whereas in The Greasy Strangler you could, in theory, laugh thanks to how disgusting it was, here they were trying something a lot braver when you were not supposed to be revolted by these ludicrous characters, to all intents and purposes you were intended to find them endearing. While deadpan comedy can succeed if you feel a certain contempt for the people you're watching, or more importantly if the filmmakers do, with this you began to get the creeping suspicion Hosking loved these characters, and loved what his cast of fairly famous names were doing with them to bring them to life, so anything offputting would be to do with how little they made you laugh, if at all.

Plaza was in her element as Lulu Danger (you wonder what her original, unmarried name was, since that one suited her down to the ground), who once she realises her husband has tried to rob her family decides to strike out on her own and look up the man she has seen advertised on television commercials. He is the titular Beverly ("Beverly is a man's name!"), played by Craig Robinson in bright tartan outfits (everyone here had eccentric sartorial choices), and he is putting on a show at a nearby hotel, but there's another reason Lulu wants to see him, and it's because she has a past with him that we don't discover the extent of until the film is almost over. Not that it really matters, as it was really simply an excuse to get her into that hotel with the man who attempted to rob Shane and his inept crooked colleagues back.

He is Colin, essayed by Jemaine Clement in a style that fit him like a glove, even more so than his team-up with Plaza in bizarre superhero television show Legion. It was, in a weird way, satisfying to see how much more improved this was when everyone involved was obviously on the same wavelength, whether it made you laugh or not, and despite the joke wearing thin about the halfway point, there was something to take its place. Also appearing was Matt Berry, again ideal casting as Beverly's road manager and interpreter seeing as how the celebrity showman speaks in extended grunts and growls, leaving us legitimately intrigued to see what the evening will consist of. Aware of that, Hosking keeps delaying the big event to the dismay of Linn's fans, including Lulu, but that perversely entertaining bloody-mindedness offered space for her and Colin to get to know each other. Here a development occurred that the director's previous film would never have countered: it became oddly sweet and inclusive, as if to say, if you've made it this far, welcome fellow weirdos, you're amongst friends. There was even a cheesy dance sequence that, set in this absurdity, was strangely affecting. Music by Andrew Hung.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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