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Friday, March 19, 2010

DROP DEAD SEXY -- movie review by porfle

(Note: This review originally appeared at in 2005.)

Seeing the front cover picture for DROP DEAD SEXY (2005), which shows Crispin Glover and Jason Lee lugging the dead body of a beautiful blonde, I immediately thought "Weekend At Bernadette's." But this isn't about two guys trying to pass off a corpse as alive--the writers were actually able to come up with something a little different, thank goodness, and for the most part, it's pretty entertaining.

Lee and Glover star as Frank and Eddie, two dumb 'n' dumber Texas boys who try to earn some extra cash on the side by performing certain illegal tasks for a corpulent strip-club owner named Spider (Pruitt Taylor Vince), who gives new meaning to the term "shifty-eyed." Frank works for a used car dealer named Big Tex (Burton Gilliam), dancing around in the street in a cowboy outfit with a big cartoony head, while Eddie makes his living as a gravedigger (or "subterranean architect" as he likes to put it, proudly proclaiming: "People spend the rest of their lives in my holes!") Their latest task for Spider is to drive a pickup full of bootleg cigarettes to Mexico to sell them, with the promise of ten percent of the take. Spider tells Frank that he'll kill them if they mess things up, which is no problem until Frank stops in the middle of nowhere to take a leak and the truck explodes, destroying all $250,000 worth of Spider's cigarettes.

They decide to hide out for a while at Frank's boyhood home, where they find his mother, Ma Muzzy (Lin Shaye--she's the one who made you want to throw up in THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY and KINGPIN) stuffing her beaver--she's an taxidermist. Later, while scanning the newspaper, Frank notices an obituary for Crystal, the recently-deceased young wife of the town's richest man, Tom Harkness (Xander Berkeley, who played the milk-drinking stepdad in T2), and the picture shows her wearing a hugely expensive-looking necklace. Eddie recalls seeing her wearing it right before he buried her, and suddenly a lightbulb goes off in Frank's head--all they have to do is dig her up, grab the necklace, fence it, and pay back Spider, keeping whatever's left over for themselves. ("What if she's not dead?" Eddie worries.) Easy, right? Wrong, because she isn't wearing the necklace, and when the night watchman shows up before they can re-bury her, they end up having to take her with them back to Frank's house, which will be a direct violation of Ma Muzzy's rule against having girls in their room.

This, of course, is where the main complications of the story commence, especially when Frank hatches a new plan to ransom Crystal's body back to her wealthy husband. Meanwhile, Eddie is becoming a bit too infatuated with the beautiful dead woman lying on his bed, and for a few brief moments we get the idea that this movie is going to head off into some really weird directions. Fortunately, though, Eddie's interest remains platonic, and when he finally recognizes her as one of his favorite strippers at a club called "The Mean-Eyed Pussy Cat", the boys begin to investigate her past. This is where DROP DEAD SEXY stops being a total farce and morphs into a murder mystery. Eddie's pal, the coroner (Brad Dourif) informs them that Crystal had swimming pool water, not lake water, in her lungs when she was examined, but that the police didn't follow this up. Frank and Eddie suspect the husband of murder and hatch a plan to bring him to justice while ripping him off at the same time. What follows is still pretty funny but a lot of attention is paid to this increasingly complicated plot, which I didn't mind since it's pretty well handled and supplies a few nice surprises, and leads up to a cool shootout at the end. And the lead actors are so good in their roles that when the movie changes tone somewhat, they don't miss a beat.

The best thing about DROP DEAD SEXY, in fact, is the comedy team of Jason Lee and Crispin Glover. Lee displays a great "Bud Abbott" straight-man style here, but he's a lot funnier--he's forever impressed with his own brilliance even as everything he does backfires, and his reactions to the constant stupidity of his partner are often priceless. Crispin Glover, as usual, seems to have just dropped in from another planet. I find him fascinating to watch in whatever he does, and his deadpan portrayal of a laconic, hypersensitive, terminally-confused Texas boy is a wonder to behold and manages somehow to be restrained and over-the-top at the same time. I love the scene where Frank and Eddie visit the coroner, because it gives us a chance to see two of Hollywood's finest oddballs, Crispin Glover and Brad Dourif, trading dialogue over the dead body of a beautiful naked woman who, oddly enough, is holding a glass of white wine, while Jason Lee looks on in utter consternation. (You just knew there had to be some necrophilia in this movie, right?)

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