Pleasantly Quirky and Refreshing

 

Daltry Calhoun (2005) Review 5
Director:Katrina Holden Bronson,
Starring:Johnny Knoxville, Elizabeth Banks, Juliette Lewis, David Koechner, Kick Gurry, and Sophie Traub
Length:100 minutes
Rated:PG-13

 

Daltry is basically a good guy. He once was with May and fathered June until May’s mother ran him off. He didn’t want to leave, but he did anyway.

“Daltry Calhoun” is an interesting off-beat independent comedy about a father, a daughter, an Australian, and genetically engineered sod (that’s grass if you didn’t already know). It works despite cautious pacing and odd casting.

“Calhoun” is the quirky story of Daltry (Johnny Knoxville) and the creation of his sod empire. At the peak of his success, he is visited by May (Elizabeth Banks) and her 14 year-old daughter, June (Sophie Traub), a music prodigy. But Daltry’s empire is about to crumble. Some kind of genetic mishap has caused his grass seed (advertised as the best for golf courses and yards) to sprout some kind of strange mutated growths. Daltry imports in an earthy Australian named Frankie (Kick Gurry) to solve the problem but the investors are getting worried and repo men are at his door.

Not only is Daltry’s life complicated by the addition of a teenage daughter, mutated growths, and a looney Australian, but the town widow, Flora (the Junior League version of Juliette Lewis) is hot for his bod. Boy has Daltry got problems. He might as well just go play golf.

“Daltry Calhoun” marks the directing debut of Katrina Holden Bronson who also wrote the screenplay. Admirers of solid independent comedy dramas will find the film to their liking. It is slow in places consistent with other films of its ilk. But the movie is very affable, and Knoxville makes a pleasant leading man with a smile and body language that hides the need to really act. I’m not really sure if Knoxville is an actor or just a strange likeable personality. But here he is cast just right for this role.

Other casting is odd. Elizabeth Banks, who is everywhere playing lots of different characters these days, doesn’t seem right for the role of the mother of a teenager. She sells the part, however, and the quirkiness of the story makes it palatable. Juliette Lewis looks great in preppy form fitting clothing playing a small town sexpot who might be more tease than she is anything else. It is hard to imagine her with Daltry until a weird sex scene in which both characters come alive late in the film. “Anchorman” alum David Koechner plays a mentally challenged man named Doyle Earl well although he could have been permitted to be funnier. The movie needs more laughs in order to off-set the dramatic elements.

“Calhoun” is as much a drama as it is an unusual comedy and the tone is uneven throughout which kept me off guard expecting some kind of wild payoff. I kept thinking that something unwholesome would occur. Instead Bronson’s screenplay is less wacky and more grounded. Playing it straight is, given the spicier offerings at the theater today, refreshing but not completely satisfying. Still, it is entertaining to see Knoxville ham it up in places especially when his character is called upon to be sensitive and can’t really pull it off. Fact is that the character of Daltry and the personality known as Knoxville might not be one and the same. And I’ll bet Knoxville wouldn’t care to be known also as Daltry.

Unusual and in places refreshing, “Daltry Calhoun” is an good natured independent comedy drama independent film fans will endorse.