Being fairly tired of the assembly-line product foisted upon us by the
Hollywood studios, I'm generally all in support of something offbeat. But
it's one thing to be offbeat, and another thing entirely to be off-pitch.
The quirky dark comedy _Home_Fries_, I'm afraid, falls under the latter
Don't be fooled by Warner Bros.'s misleading marketing campaign, which
sells this strange film as a light-as-a-feather romance. At the center of
_Home_Fries_ is Henry Lever (Chris Ellis), whose upright dead body is found
in the middle of a field. Harry, who had a heart ailment, was quite
literally scared to death by his two National Guard helicopter pilot
stepsons Dorian (Luke Wilson) and Angus (Jake Busey), who chase him down
with a chopper as a favor to their unhappy mother (Catherine O'Hara).
Since it all happened in the middle of nowhere, there are no witnesses--at
least by eye. Possibly overhearing everything, thanks to some crossed
radio signals, is Sally (Drew Barrymore), a very pregnant young woman who
works the drive-thru at a local burger joint. And, as it always
conveniently happens in the movies, the father of Sally's baby is the late
To get close to Sally and find out what she may or may not know, Dorian
takes a job at Burger-Matic himself. But he gets more than he bargained
for, slowly but surely falling for her. _Home_Fries_ could have worked if
writer Vince Gilligan and director Dean Parisot kept things simple and left
the film at that. But real-life loves Wilson and the always-engaging
Barrymore aren't given much breathing room to build an on-screen rapport;
they're all but drowned out by all the strange goings-on that compete for
attention. Lurking in the background and occasionally stepping up to
center stage is the conniving Mrs. Lever, who has a Machiavellian grasp on
Angus, who will do anything he can to make his mother happy--even kill.
Gilligan obviously intended this subplot to give the film an
unconventional, dark edge, but it is largely unfunny, too broadly played,
and too much of what springs from it feels out of place. Does there really
need to be a go-for-broke copter-car chase climax?
While I applaud the filmmakers' ambitions in creating something different,
I cannot help but feel that _Home_Fries_ would have been better if it were
more conventional. Ironically, despite all the quirkiness being bandied
about, it is the film's most conventional aspect--the romance--that
remotely holds any interest. Everything else, as offbeat as it is, is
simply a bore.