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Jesse Page is an ex-convict whom wants to go straight, but has problems with his former cell mate Larry whom wants Jesse's help with his friends for a drug deal. But when the deal goes sour and the thugs whom try to rip them off end up getting killed, Jesse and the others are forced to flee. Jesse and Larry hide out in an dilapidated motel in the California desert where Jesse decides on a change by going to Detroit to join a band he played at. But with Larry tagging along, brings up more complications, as well as the eccentric motel owner Edsel and his crazed ex-stripper wife Hester, while the drug dealers slowly begin to close in on all of them. Written by
Craig Hamann's friend and former co-worker at Video Archives, Roger Avary, acted as a "producer-in-name-only" on the film. He had no creative input or involvement; his name was only attached to help his friend get meetings with potential financiers. Later, the distributors used his name to advertise the film as coming from "the Academy Award winning writer of Pulp Fiction (1994)", thus tricking consumers into thinking the movie was 1) from Quentin Tarantino and 2) actually written by the writer of Pulp Fiction. Both Craig Hamann and Roger Avary were displeased about this. See more »
has (some of) the ingredients but not the right mixture
It may be of some significance to note that the front of the box boasts "From the Academy Award Winning Co-Writer of Pulp Fiction", which is a white lie as it only boasts Roger Avary as executive producer. But writer/director Craig Hamann does come out of the same group that Tarantino did, which was the Video Archives store that they all worked at, and in the mid 80's Hamann and Tarantino collaborated on the aborted feature-film project My Best Friends Birthday. So while Boogie Boy may appear to be a very pale knockoff of something from the Tarantino-verse (drug deal gone bad, bad-looking hit-men, some friendship stuff gone awry, weird supporting characters), it would seem to be more natural a thing to come out of Hamann than just cashing in. It was his feature film debut as director, and he probably carried some of those memories from the days of watching genre movies with the likes of Tarantino and Avary.
Sadly, Hamann's career didn't even turn out as good as Avary's much less Tarantino's, and after Boogie Boy Hamann's credits are basically non-existent. Maybe something happened during this production, or perhaps due to the lack of actual distribution (it's a straight-to-video looking thing right from the cover, and the eighteen minutes of previews on the VHS tape I saw confirm its uber-B-movieness). It isn't a completely bad premise, just a little tired: a guy gets out of prison, meets up with his old buddy from the inside (the two watched each others back to make sure neither was raped or beat up too bad), but the old buddy is a heroin addict, the other guy is clean and wants to move on to be a drummer after an impromptu performance in Joan Jett's band (yeah, she's not named Joan Jett, but she basically plays herself).
As it turns out though, Jesse goes along with Larry reluctantly on a drug deal, which goes bad and Jesse has to take out the baddie druggers. Jesse and Larry go on the run and hide out at some desert motel with two deadbeat weirdos (one of whom very strangely, though not funny-strange, by Frederic Forrest). That's the premise the movie rests on, and it's not very original. And for a film like this, it asks to have some strong characters, or just people that might be striking or different or have some kind of conflict that can resonate. Jesse and Larry, as played by Mark Dacascos and Jaimz Woolvett, don't really progress much from start to finish: Jesse leaves the high-and-mighty rehabilitated prisoner (albeit rather agile killer if need be, like a drummer ninja), and Larry leaves still a burnt-out-dead-end druggie. As for other characters, they either turn up dead or just... I don't know.
The characters aren't developed much past their initial impressions, and the dialog, while competently written and on occasion clever and witty, doesn't come anywhere near to the standard that Hamann's former Video Archives buddies could come up with. It carries some powerful scenes in fits and starts, but just when it looks like the actors (mostly Woolvett as Badascos is really stiff) could carry it somewhere else interesting, it stalls into formula, or weird asides with Frederic Forrest who looks like he just wanted some time in the sun (he only has one halfway convincing scene towards the end when he talks about how he came across a bunch of money).
And yet, for all of the faults in the film, mostly due to a lack of ambition if not some creativity (Hamann, like QT, is an Elvis fan thoroughly, which is a nice touch), I wish Hamann had made some more films. Between this and My Best Friend's Birthday, he doesn't shine out like a great auteur, but there are sparks that speak to an original talent just waiting to develop. Sadly, this doesn't really do it though. 5.5/10
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