Moving McAllister
Director
Cast
, , ,
Rated
PG-13
Runtime
89 min.
Release Date
09/14/2007
Moving McAllister

Released by First Independent Features, Moving McAllister takes the form of a road movie, except it really shouldn’t be a road movie, nor should the events therein have ever happened, at least according to the movie’s suggested reality. The setup is so transparent that everything subsequent seems superficial and petty, while the sense of humor is too familiar to Napoleon Dynamite and the twenty-something melancholy Garden State for us to ignore.

Allow me to explain. Rick (Ben Gourley) is an intern at a prestigious Miami law firm overseen by the powerful Max McAllister (Rutger Hauer), no doubt short for Maximilian, though the movie is never so obvious to say it. Why millionaires are always named Maximilian? I don’t know… After puckering up behind his boss in an elevator, Rick is given a special assignment by McAllister, perfectly suited for an intern desperate to prove himself: Drive the boss’ niece from Georgia to California. Couldn’t think of a better opportunity for a future lawyer. McAllister warns Rick about his daughter Michelle (Mila Kunis, better known as Jackie from That 70’s Show), saying she’s wild and to keep his hands off her during the trip. And so, Rick is told to rent a beaten-down rental truck, drive from Miami to California, keep his mitts off the boss’ niece, and be back in five days to take the bar exam.

Herein lies the problem: If McAllister is the bigwig he’s made out to be, why would he allow his niece, whom he’s overprotective about, ride in a rental truck cross-country with a some pipsqueak intern? Why wouldn’t McAllister just take the $300 he’s giving Rick and fly Michelle to California? The humor is as forced as the absurd plot devices, making the usual road trip movie stops in backwards parts of our United States no one should see. And apparently McAllister couldn’t spring for a U-Haul either; Rick is driving a cruddy old Paradise truck that randomly breaks down. But of course, vehicle failure or stops for food and gas mean character interaction! Rick and Michelle meet hitchhiker/hippie/spiritual guru Orlie (Jon Heder), who’s convinced his current body actually switched souls with his original body, and now his is a lost spirit. This is all explained with Heder’s nasally, dufus voice, making it all the more annoying for it.

We’re shocked when Rick doesn’t blow his brains out, since Michelle’s excessive happiness is tiring and Orlie’s “backne” becomes a heavy topic in a men’s room. He tolerates Michelle’s random stops and delays, including one overplayed and depressing look at Rick’s parents. And if Michelle’s apparent joy for everything isn’t enough, Orlie and Michelle’s pet pig Dorothy are right there with their bodily functions, squirting and farting them in your face. By the end, when we’re expected to buy some faux romance, it’s almost laughable (unintentionally).

Jon Heder has officially outlived his usefulness in movies. Sure, Napoleon Dynamite was funny, but now he’s played sleight versions of the same character in more bad comedies than I want to remember—everything from The Benchwarmers to Surf’s Up (where even animated his dufusness penetrated our minds). Please, Jon, stop. But Rutger Hauer has no excuse. He used to be a major force onscreen, commanding iconic roles like those he played in Flesh and Blood and Blade Runner. His eyes were pale and fierce, his grizzly voice reminiscent of a stark medievalism, and his savage intellect usually the crux of his performance. And now he’s stuck on playing businessmen—ones that are conspicuously inconsistent, no less.

It’s surprising that this indie comedy lacks the indie feel, despite its crack at quirkiness and desperate attempts to be offbeat. There are a couple well-conceived dream sequences; they’re overused and become redundant however. And who wouldn’t enjoy seeing Billy Drago dressed up like an effeminate gangster called The Lady? Nevertheless, Gourley, who wrote the picture, included an astonishing amount of unimaginativeness, making this one of the quietest screenings of a comedy I’ve been to in some time.

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