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Featured DVD Review: Daltry Calhoun

May 20th, 2012

Daltry Calhoun - Buy from Amazon

When Daltry Calhoun was made, Johnny Knoxville was most famous for being the host / star / biggest idiot of Jackass, the TV show. He had made a number of movies, but none had earned overall positive reviews. (He was mostly a supporting character in these movies, so you couldn't blame him for this.) There was some buzz that this film would finally break that streak, especially with Quentin Tarantino acting as producer, but it was not to be. In fact, for a while, it was his worst reviewed film. Looking back, is it really that bad? Or does it have enough positive qualities to at least be worth a rental?

The Movie

Johnny Knoxville stars as the titular Daltry Calhoun, whom we meet 14 years ago getting into a fight with his underage girlfriend / baby mama, May. The argument ends when Dee, his late mother's cousin, breaks it up. She throws his pot plants away, packs a few items of clothing in a bag, and throws him out of the house.

Fast forward to today and we catch up with Daltry Calhoun, who has put the skills he learned growing pot to use and runs Calhoun Industries, which grows the best grass for golf greens in the area. His recent commercials not only put his small town of Ducktown, Tennessee on the map, but it has made him something of a local celebrity. His ads also help reunite him with May and his now teenage daughter, June, not that June knows she's his daughter. May kept that information from her. Likewise, May hasn't told June about her illness. May is dying and she wants the newly legitimate and successful Daltry to make up for the years when he was a deadbeat dad. She's not sure he has it in him, which is why the reunion is anything by happy. It's also bad timing for Daltry, as something has gone wrong with his sod and his company is close to going under. He's even had to bring in a sod expert from Australia, Frankie, to try and help with the problem. When June sees him for the first time, she's smitten. But that's just one in a huge number of complicated relationships in this movie.

A lot of critics who watch a lot of independent comedies often complain about the over-reliance of "Quirk" to create comedy. Too many writers try and come up with quirky characters hoping it will be a shortcut to comedy rather than coming up with realistic characters, which is the bedrock of substantive comedy. This film certainly suffers from that flaw. This film is filled with small town quirkiness. For instance, Juliette Lewis plays an oversexed divorcee who is obsessed with Daltry. That would be a fine dimension to add to a character, but unless there's more, it's not enough to bring anything to the movie. When May is a teenager, we learn nothing about her, outside of her taste in music, and when she returns as an adult, she's little more than anger. Granted, her anger isn't unwarranted, but we need more to make her real. The titular character has more depth than most of the others, but that's not saying too much. June was the only character I really found appealing. Fortunately, she is the central character for most of the movie. Unfortunately, much of the time she's got no other real characters to interact with. There are a few times when she's talking about music and bonding with her father that we see what the movie could have been, but there are not enough of those moments to save the movie.

The Extras

There are no extras on the DVD.

The Verdict

Sophie Traub as June is the best part of Daltry Calhoun, but it is not enough to save the movie. On a side note, she was also the best part of Tenderness, which was also a bad movie. I hope she finds a movie that showcases her talent, because she deserves to be seen more. Daltry Calhoun is best ignored. For most, the DVD isn't even worth the bargain price of $7.

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