Randy and the Mob (2007)

1 Apr


Smith’s Verdict: ***1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

The best filmmakers don’t make the same film over and over. The smartest filmmakers don’t want to (or rather, feel they don’t need to). There is one filmmaker that falls into both descriptions. His name is Ray McKinnon, the Southern filmmaker/actor who directed, co-wrote, co-produced, and co-starred in the short farm comedy “The Accountant” (which won an Oscar for him and one of his creative partners—his wife Lisa Blount) before he took a serious, dark turn with the feature “Chrystal” (which starred Blount in the title role). Both films took place in the South, which McKinnon and Blount apparently have affection for.

So, after the art that was “Chrystal,” McKinnon, Blount, and Walton Goggins (co-producer of the previous films) decided to do something different with a new movie. The result is a lighthearted comedy named “Randy and the Mob,” a movie that mixes the mob with Southern droll. This is clever, and who better to deliver most of the film’s Southern droll than director/writer/co-producer Ray McKinnon as the title character Randy?

McKinnon plays two characters in “Randy and the Mob.” One is Randy, a good ol boy trying to keep track of his various businesses in a small Georgia town. The other is his twin brother Cecil, a gay man who stays in this town because he has deep respect for his family (despite a nosy grandmother). I guess the budget was so low that they couldn’t use split-screen to show both characters in the same shot. But strangely though, it didn’t seem necessary. We know both characters are there and they interact with each other convincingly. And it’s brilliant that McKinnon, like Nicolas Cage in “Adaptation,” is able to show difference in both characters.

In the film, Randy’s latest plan to keep the businesses going involves a loan shark. But his businesses aren’t making enough money and Franco (Paul Ben-Victor), a loan shark for the mob, wants to collect the money. Randy can’t deliver, but the mob has a plan for him. They will use his businesses to move some of their goods, arranging for mob enforcer Tino Armani (Goggins) to take care of things.

Tino Armani is a curious case. Played by Walton Goggins in a terrific comic performance that may remind you of Stooge Larry crossed with Karl Childers of “Sling Blade,” Tino is an uptight, barely emotional deadpan who emphasizes all of his words in a droll Southern accent. At one point, Randy wonders why he doesn’t sound Italian with a name like “Armani.” Tino addresses, “It’s-called-stereotyping. I’ve-dealt-with-it-my-whole-life.” Viewers may have a bit of trouble accepting this character (or rather, his voice) at first, but it grew on me as a truly effective comic character (not a “caricature”). Tino comes into Randy’s life and the lives of Randy’s family and friends. He impresses everybody with his insight on human life (he even has something to say about Randy’s nearly-unlikable attitude), the way he cooks Italian food, and how he keeps Randy’s businesses afloat.

This is all done with a real Southern authenticity. There are no stereotypes or caricatures to be found—these people seem like real people and true originals. These characters are the real source of the comedy in this movie—it’s not just the clever one-liners and slapstick situations; it’s the people. Cecil, the gay brother, isn’t given the stereotype treatment either—not even when he wears a pantsuit in the middle of nowhere at a family cabin. Then, there’s his life partner Bill (Tim DeKay) who won’t let people talk bad about Cecil, Randy’s depressed wife (Blount, wonderfully droll) who glares and stares whenever something is…well, off. And finally there’s the police deputy (Brent Briscoe) who won’t let Randy forget that he beat him up in grade school and would like people to know that.

“Randy and the Mob” is a pretty entertaining movie—well-developed, funny, and subtle

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