Case Number 18947: Small Claims Court

DON MCKAY

Image Entertainment // 2009 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 21st, 2010

The Charge

Some secrets are better left buried.

The Case

Thomas Haden Church (Spider-man 3) is Don McKay, a mild-mannered school janitor who finds himself drawn back to his home town. Apparently his high school sweetheart (Elizabeth Shue, The Karate Kid) is dying, and Don is hoping to fire something up romantically before her time runs out.

But then something haywire happens along the way. Someone gets killed in violent, bloody fashion. And as the shockwaves from this event fan out, Don finds himself pulled into a series of blackmail schemes, with a humongous amount of money on the line for the miscreant who manages to pull the right strings. Bit by bit, the truth is revealed, including the most explosive: the reason that Don fled his home in the first place.

Don McKay is a low-key, quirky mystery movie, buoyed by some decent performances and an effective blend of comedy and violence. The film moves at a slow pace, but I didn't mind; the momentum matched the overall feel and, specifically, the character of Don McKay, a measured and somewhat oblivious protagonist. Yes, Don is technically a thriller, but there are closer similarities between it and noir than Single White Female or something. Don't tune in if you're expecting a tale that zips along a zesty clip.

Do tune in if you want something a bit...off. That's what Don McKay feels like. It's off. Like the ground underfoot can't be trusted. The world writer/director Jake Goldberger creates shifts with each of the big plot points, changing the rules in a big fashion reveal to reveal. That murder? Comes out of nowhere and alters the atmosphere of the film immediately. And as the finale looms and the bigger schemes come into focus, Don McKay shifts again, all while maintaining a cool macabre flavor.

It's not a flawless effort. Haden Church is deadpan enough for the character, but he does look bored sometimes. And the ending has some good ideas and all -- it just breezes through them too quickly and characters begin acting a bit too quirky to suspend the disbelief. Still, you could do worse with your ninety minutes. If you have the patience, Don McKay will hit you with some entertainment.

A bare-bones screener: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 2.0 stereo, no extras.

The Verdict

Not Guilty.

Review content copyright © 2010 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile
Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* None

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt1281374/combined