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Walrus-like warden, Sven "Swede" Sorenson, a cross between Bluto and Wimpy, runs the prison, murders convicts who escape, and has the FBI on his trail in the form of agent Karen Polarski, the daughter of the town's corrupt judge. Swede's twins tell their father they're pregnant (they aren't), so he pushes their dim boyfriends, Bud and Larry, into shotgun marriages. He also turns his sons-in-law into slave labor, so Bud hatches an escape plan: to rob a train carrying old bills to the mint for burning. Larry's his reluctant accomplice. When Bud is captured and railroaded into Swede's jail, his death looks certain, until he hatches yet another plan that requires Larry's help. Written by
Any film with Marlon Brando is worth watching and I was not disappointed by this one. It is as though a bunch of big name stars got together and decided to make a screwball sicko black comedy. The film is erratic but overall they succeeded.
Marlon Brando is superb as The Swede, a vicious and sadistic prison warden and a true `River of Fire' on earth. He clearly enjoyed this role. Charlie Sheen is funny but badly miscast loser due to his lack of accent (more on that later). Thomas Church is wonderful as Larry, a dim bulb but big-hearted co-accomplice with Bud. Donald Sutherland is very disappointing as Judge Rausenberg, as is Mira Sorvino as his daughter the FBI agent. The scheming, teenage twins were funny and wonderful.
As with many screwball comedies, the plot jumped around frenetically and was difficult to follow. Still, I found it cohesive if lacking in continuity. The strongest points were the scenes with the Swede, the twins, and Larry and Bud while the weakest point was probably the laughably easy train robbery. Also, I found the pit bull like violence in the prison unrealistic and difficult to deal with.
Having lived in Minnesota, I was disappointed by some of the details of the movie. First, Marlon moved his hands a lot when he talked while any Minnesotan knows that a true Swede talks with his hands still --- very still indeed --- at his sides. Yah sure, yabecha! Also, the accents were very erratic. Larry had a true northern Minnesota accent while Charlie Sheen had no accent at all --- he was miscast. Marlon and Donald did fairly well but the twins sounded like Valley girls pretending to be Minnesotans --- their enthusiasm for their roles made this cute rather than annoying.
The film was so erratic and had such poor continuity that I can't give it more than a six but it still was worth seeing at least once. I recommend it to anyone with an open mind who can deal with the violence and the sexual content. This film definitely is not for children.
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