Pawn Shop Chronicles [Blu-Ray] Wayne Kramer

Pawn Shop Chronicles [Blu-Ray] Wayne Kramer
4
To describe Pawn Shop Chronicles as a mash-up of Creepshow and Pulp Fiction would give a ballpark idea of the morbidly offbeat nature of this film, but it might entice some to think that the end result is actually better than it is. Operating on the assumption that "weird" equals "inspired" and that black humour doesn't have to be funny as long as it's dark and twisted enough, the barely intersecting stories strive so hard for irreverence that they strain credibility, ultimately veering into desperation. The story threads, introduced via comic book visuals, center upon a pawnshop run by Alton (Vincent D'Onofrio), frequented by his friend, Johnson (Chi McBride). Our first tale involves a mystical shotgun, three violent rednecks (Lukas Haas, Paul Walker and Kevin Rankin) and the robbery of a meth cook (played by a gas-masked Norman Reedus). Then we move onto the newlywed, Richard (Matt Dillon), who finds a ring in the pawn shop that he'd given to his missing first wife, leading to a dogged search that ends with a depraved loner (Elijah Wood) and a horrific discovery in the silos on his property. Closing things out is a twist on the classic Faustian, deal-with-the-devil story, this time with an unsuccessful Elvis impersonator (Brendan Fraser) who's hoping to at least have people recognize him as something other than a magician or Liberace. The biggest curiosity in a movie filled with them is how so many reputable actors and a talented director (The Cooler's Wayne Kramer) came to be involved in such a deranged project. Unsurprisingly, the performances are all quite effective and there are details, such as the fictional Georgia town with two barbershops next to each other that provoke riots based on where you get your hair cut, which manage to find an interesting, surreal comedic tone. But it never manages to corral all of the wild tangents into something cohesive and enjoys revelling far too much in its exploitative grindhouse nature. A commentary track by Kramer and writer Adam Minarovich (the only supplemental material included) is enjoyably freewheeling, if not exactly enlightening. The two discuss their views on the material, agreeing that they may be in the minority for finding humour in the most sadistic of places, and differing in how Kramer sees supernatural qualities to the town, whereas Minarovich chalks it all up to crazy hillbillies and the conception of his ideas while often under the influence of alcohol. (VVS)