Saturday, August 23, 2008

Scotland, PA

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There aren't too many actors in the world who could play Macbeth as a short order fast-food chef. Two, maybe three. James LeGros is one of them. He is one of those guys that I will watch in anything. Just good-looking enough to get the occasional leading-man role, the dude is weird right down to his spleen and liver, and he never, never, never fails to infect whatever production he is involved in with a first class case of hambone weirdo sandwich. I first caught his act as the only good thing about Destiny Turns on the Radio, and not long after that he blew my mind as a transcendently dumb superstar slumming in indie-film land in Living In Oblivion. As an actor, he makes unconscionable choices, but he makes them so hard, with such conviction, that you are forced to either go along for the ride or break down completely.

Here he is in Living In Oblivion, basically just being totally awesome.

So when I say that Scotland, PA features one of the few worthy Christopher Walken performances in recent memory, a near-perfect soundtrack, and a show-stealing turn from Maura Tierney (good things all) you have to understand that there is something missing. Where's the beef, LeGros? Where you at, money? Where you at? All right, that's too harsh. LeGros is fine as the aforementioned Macbeth transplant. He's just muted, somehow. There's no perfect gonzo moment from him. My theory is that there is just so much crazy here that it cancelled him out. Look here, this is 'Macbeth' – Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' – set in the fast food world, for Grimace's sake. During the seventies. With lots of Bad Company playing on the radio. And Walken as a vegetarian homicide detective name MacDuff. And Andy Dick and Speed Levitch as fortune-telling hippies . . .

I guess I'm just saying that this is one movie that doesn't need a hambone weirdo sandwich; it's already making its own. But Maura Tierney is good in this, man. She completely obscures her television personality; it's a revealing performance and one of the most pleasant viewing surprises I've had this year. There is a brink between three stars and four. This movie is on it.

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