Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Chain of Fools (2000) - David Cross #10

Director: Traktor      
Runtime: 98 Minutes

Chain of Fools is a "heist comedy-romance" and the first feature film by the Swedish creative advertising collective known as Traktor.  Kresk (Steve Zahn) is a down-on-his-luck barber whose wife just divorced him when into his shop walks Avnet (Jeff Goldblum).  Kresk overhears Avnet talking on his cell, admitting that he's the one who robbed the museum the night before, killing two guards and stealing the precious Ming dynasty coins known as the Shiny New Enemies.  Avnet tries to kill Kresk, but through the power of slapstick Kresk gets the upper hand and puts a pair of scissors through Avnet's neck.  Kresk gets help hiding the body from his friend Andy (David Cross) and the two of them steal the Shiny New Enemies for themselves.  Meanwhile, the plot thickens with the introduction of Salma Hayek as Detective Kolko, who's investigating the theft of the coins and falls in love with Kresk, Elijah Wood shows up as Mikey, a teenage hitman who really just wants to make new friends, Paulie, an illiterate mob boss, and Kresk's terrible nephew who promptly swallows the coins.

The characters in the film all seem like suggestions from an improv comedy game, which may also speak to Traktor's history in very short film.  Steve Zahn's a suicidal barber, and if you replaced all his lines with "aw, shucks," the story wouldn't change much.  Salma Hayek's the cop who was also appeared in Playboy.  David Cross wears a "Timber Scouts" uniform throughout the movie, and when we first see him it's at the Timber Scouts store he owns, where he berates a child to tears for not knowing how to tie a box knot before ripping merit badges off the kid's chest.  Oddly enough, suicide is a prominent theme throughout the movie.  A couple main characters attempt to kill themselves, and it turns out that pretty much everyone had at least one parent take their own life, which makes for a really awkward romantic dinner scene.  But through the power of friendship, love, and murdering a bunch of criminals, they all live happily ever after. 

The film has a lot of memorable characters, but it's so packed with them that we don't really get as much as we'd like for most of them. Kresk and Det. Kolko's relationship is completely out of nowhere and unbelievable (e.g. "You seem like a nice guy.  And your parents killed themselves?  So did my dad!  I'm in love with you now.") The characters that we get a lot of are two-dimensional, and are probably better suited to sketch comedy than a feature film.


The Cross-Section:

Cross, with his history in sketch comedy, is a lot of fun whenever he's onscreen, given his wacky character.  

Unfortunately, there are large gaps where the character is not present.



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