Drop Dead Sexy, 2005
Director: Michael Philip
Starring Crispin Glover and Jason Lee
Drop Dead Sexy is a 2005 weirdo comedy directed by Michael Philip about a boozing gravedigger played by Crispin Glover and his loser pal, Jason Lee. To make some money the desperate, cash-strapped Frank (Jason Lee) signs on as a driver of an illegal shipment of cigarettes. He and Eddie (Glover) ride off in a truck and get lost and Frank (Lee) stops to pee and both he and Glover get out of the truck and — BOOM! — it explodes!
Now the two chuckleheads own the evil criminal boss who hired them, a guy named Spider (played by Pruitt Taylor Vince) a lot of money. So they cook up a scheme to get the money for the evil Spider by digging up a recently deceased woman who is gorgeous and used to be a stripper. They think that she was buried wearing a diamond necklace and hope to abscond with it and sell it. However after they dig up the woman, it turns out the necklace is not there. Then they end up taking the body and trying to blackmail the woman’s husband. All this to try to pay Spider back.
The strength of this film is in the performances by the three dudes in the lead roles — Lee, Glover, and Vince. In addition there are delightful and quirky performances by the women in the film — Melissa Keller, Audrey Marie Anderson, Lin Shaye, and more. The actors do well with the offbeat humor, yet are also emotionally moving and engaging as people. In that sense it’s like a favorite comedy of mine — Dumb and Dumber.
There’s much to like here for aficionados of the bizarre — funny lines like when Lin Shaye, a taxadermist who talks to a stuffed beaver, is tussling with Glover and they both have a grip on the stuffed beaver and Ma Muzzy (Lin Shaye) yells, “Get your hands off my beaver.”
Crispin Glover loves films like this where he can explore human quirkiness. The guy is really handsome but his nose is a little strange because it kind of divides into two funny little knobs at the end. Thus, according to inside reports I’ve gotten, he thinks he’s a bit unattractive and freakish. Thus, perhaps, he chooses to make films about freaks. Clearly he also feels a deep and true affinity for the strange that extends beyond the sense of being an outcast due to his odd proboscis. He loves the freakish. And I’m sure that he knows that the offbeat is really fun. He also knows that much great art explores fringe realms.
If you love losers and goofballs you will enjoy this film. Crispin, in an effort to seem more like a complete loser, uses an odd somewhat southern twangy good-ole-dumb-dude accent. He does the dimwit well, put I wish there had been just a little more flash to his alcoholic dimwit.
The film was made in Austin but I didn’t get a strong sense of place nor of Texas. It could’ve been any number of places — Memphis, perhaps, or Biloxi. I love films that more thoroughly place themselves in their locale. That is one weakness of this film — I’d like to know where it’s all taking place.
This was Michael Philips’ first film. At the time that I’m writing this, December, 2011, he has not directed another film. However, he has been active as a producer. His first credit as a producer is from 1994 and his most recent is 2011. He’s long been involved with indie films. In 1994 he founded Nichol Moon Entertainment, a service company designed to help indie filmmakers. One of the films he helped with was Swingers starring Vince Vaughn.
I suppose we might find a little fault with the film in that there isn’t really anything that unique about the directing style, but, on the other hand, if this were a David Lynch film, one might not enjoy it quite as much for what it is — a goofy comedic romp with a slightly dark quality. It’s a very nicely made film and the direction and style of the film serve the story and characters. Someone else might’ve gotten weirder or kinkier, but Philip kept it amusing and heartfelt, and that’s fine for a comedy.
The “darkness” of the film is found in the fact of the two guys digging up a dead woman and then keeping the corpse around and using it to blackmail someone. And, because she is so fresh and gorgeous, and because Glover is used to being around the dead because he’s a gravedigger, well, he begins to develop deep romantic feelings for her. Some will be offended. I see the film as a comedy and comedies are allowed to go to weird places because we know they are exploring the humorous side of life… and life can be strange and terrible and scary but if we can laugh or see things from a different perspective, we can find the liberation of laughter.
I like this film. I’m not sure I’d rush to watch it again — not unless I were on a total Crispin Glover roundup and reading a biography of him and wanting to watch all of his films. But, if someone had it on in their big living room on a large-screen TV and there were cold beers and very pretty and friendly strippers in the room, I’d be happy to see it several more times.