In the early '70s scheming husband-and-wife lowlifes Mac and Pat McBeth work menial jobs at Duncan's Restaurant a popular greasy spoon in tiny Scotland Penn. Their boss Norm Duncan shares with them his idea to upgrade his eatery into a new-fangled operation that will allow patrons to drive up in their cars and order food. In a flash of rare inspiration the chronically stupid Mac suggests the even more efficient method of eliminating personnel by allowing customers to place orders themselves via intercom. Norm loves the idea but only rewards Mac with a nominal promotion to assistant manager. Furious Mac and Pat plot Norm's death and the takeover of Duncan's. The diabolical duo murder Norm by adding his head to the fries in a vat of boiling oil. With Norm's irresponsible sons immersed in other pastimes Mac and Pat successfully take control of the restaurant and turn it into a smashing fast food success. But complications ensue when Lt. Ernie McDuff investigates and restaurant employee Banco also Mac's good buddy becomes suspicious and turns against his friend. Although Mac and Pat thanks to their fast food success have traded their trailer park-like existence for a more upscale neighborhood justice lies just around the corner and threatens to tear it all away.
James LeGros and Maura Tierney (writer/director Billy Morrissette's real-life wife) are highly amusing as the wicked McBeths with LeGros handling hunky stupidity in an appealingly manly manner and Tierney oozing equal amounts of evil and lust. Christopher Walken as the gumshoe who hopes to crack the case is both '70s-style cool and utterly tacky. Kevin Corrigan registers as a dim-witted cipher who unexpectedly evolves into a dangerous nuisance and James Rebhorn is appropriately clueless as the hapless restaurateur.
Actor Billy Morrissette who makes his feature directorial debut here and also delivered the screenplay displays an assured knack for humor and a clear ability to entertain. His script is packed with shameless Shakespearean puns but the dialogue convinces in spite of the silliness. Morrissette also manages to reign in his over-the-top characters and situations so that they embody their own truths. Throughout Morrisette gives us delicious eye-candy with his attention to style as he his cinematographer and production designer deliver a hilarious send-up of the tacky '70s and the fast-food revolution. There are the clothes (wide collars were never wider) the kitschy decor (Naugahyde madness) the pop culture addictions (Yahtzee) and of course the rock 'n' roll. Until the last quarter of the film when momentum begins to sag Morrissette maintains a controlled canny grip on the droll goings-on.
Besides the elbow-rubbing and power mongering, let's not forget that the Sundance Film Festival is also about the films.
With that in mind, the annual indie film fest announced today its partial list of films for the 2001 powwow.
The lineup for three categories -- dramas, documentaries and the American Spectrum -- have thus far been announced, and other areas such as premiere, international films and short films will be announced Wednesday.
Films at the festival only compete in the dramatic and documentary categories. Top films coming out of Sundance in previous years include Ed Burns' "The Brothers McMullen" and last year's "Girlfight" from director Karyn Kusama.
The Sundance Film Festival takes place Jan. 18-28 in Park City, Utah.
In the meantime, here's the complete list of Sundance films in competition and in the American Spectrum.
"30 Years to Life," directed by Vanessa Middleton "American Astronaut," directed by Cory McAbee "The Believer," directed by Henry Bean "The Business of Strangers," directed by Patrick Stettner "The Deep End," directed by Scott McGehee & David Siegel "Donnie Darko," directed by Richard Kelly "Green Dragon," directed by Timothy Linh Bui "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," directed by John Cameron Mitchell "In the Bedroom," directed by Todd Field "L.I.E.," directed by Michael Cuesta "Lift," directed by DeMane Davis & Khari Streeter "MacArthur Park," directed by Billy Wirth "Memento," directed by Christopher Nolan "Scotland, PA," directed by Billy Morrissette "The Sleepy Time Gal," directed by Christopher Munch "Some Body," directed by Henry Barrial
"Chain Camera," directed by Kirby Dick "Children Underground," directed by Edet Belzberg "Dogtown and the Z-Boys," directed by Stacy Peralta "The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic," directed by George Butler "Go Tigers!" directed by Kenneth A. Carlson "Home Movie," directed by Chris Smith "Lalee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton," directed by Susan Froemke, Deborah Dickson with "Albert Maysles Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind," directed by Stanley Nelson "The Natural History of the Chicken," directed by Mark Lewis "Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey," directed by William Greaves "Scout's Honor," directed by Tom Shepard "Scratch," directed by Doug Pray "Southern Comfort," directed by Kate Davis "Startup.com," directed by Chris Hegedus & Jehane Noujaim "Trembling Before G-D," directed by Sandi Simcha Dubowski "An Unfinished Symphony," directed by Bestor Cram & Mike Majoro
"Acts of Worship," directed by Rosemary Rodriguez "After Image," directed by Robert Manganelli "Dancing in September," directed by Reggie Rock Bythewood "Diary of a City Priest," directed by Eugene Martin "The Doe Boy," directed by Randy Redroad "Haiku Tunnel," directed by Jacob Kornbluth & Josh Kornbluth "Invisible Revolution," directed by Beverly Peterson "Jump Tomorrow," directed by Joel Hopkins "Manic," directed by Jordan Melamed "Margarita Happy Hour," directed by Ilya Chaiken "Miss Wonton," directed by Meng Ong "Raw Deal: A Question of Consent," directed by Billy Corben "Roof to Roof," directed by Ara Corbett "Women in Film," directed by Bruce Wagner "Tape," directed by Richard Linklater "Wet Hot American Summer," directed by David Wain.