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Case Number 13414: Small Claims Court

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Full Count

Allumination Filmworks // 2006 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // April 14th, 2008

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All Rise...

As a little leaguer, Appellate Judge Tom Becker found that when he had sugary cereal for breakfast, he ended up pitching three balls and two strikes to every batter that faced him. Thus began the legend of Full Count Chocula.

The Charge

Sometimes, life throws you a curveball.

The Case

So, we've got five guys who've spent their whole lives in Lenexa, Kansas. It's 1988, and they've just graduated high school, so it's that summer, and, naturally, they're on the verge of something or another.

One drunken night, they are hassled by the local "bad" cop (Michael Rooker, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer). To get a little down-home vengeance, they drive to his modest bungalow and gleefully and savagely trash it. The next day, our quintet becomes a foursome when one of the boys—the smart, focused one, who's ditching these dirtwater digs and heading off for Princeton—turns up mysteriously dead when his car mysteriously turns over in a mysterious ditch.

Before this unfortunate event, Dead Guy had a surprise for his buddies: He'd signed them all up for the local softball league and secretly recruited five other guys to join them (must have 10 to make a team). To fill Dead Guy's slot, they recruit another guy's Disillusioned Former Promising Athlete With Blown-Out Knees Older Brother (Chris Klein, Rollerball). Also on the team: the Estranged Father (William Baldwin, Sliver) of one of the boys.

If you think this plot synopsis sounds hackneyed and aimless, wait until you get a load of Full Count. For the life of me, I could not tell you what the point of this movie is.

Let me rephrase that. The points are exactly what you'd expect from a Last Summer of Buddy-dom flick: "Friendship is forever," "Let's do it for the dead guy," "Home is where the heart is," all that stuff.

What I don't get is the point of yet another movie about a bunch of uninteresting, interchangeable characters drunkenly bemoaning the potential dead-endedness of their lives while shoring up their already-unshakable bonds through a series of dull and contrived activities and misadventures.

While the name sounds like a sleep aid, there actually is a Lenexa, Kansas, and an Internet search will give you several thousand hits, including a fairly lengthy Wikipedia entry. For the film's purposes, it's just another small town that only exists so its young people can flee it. It makes The Last Picture Show's Anarene, Texas, look like Vegas. Everything that happens—including long, overwritten soliloquies (all the main characters get three or four)—is underscored with a by-the-book twangy, folksy, bluesy guitar riff.

There's a lot of business involving the softball team that goes nowhere. Nowhere! We get endless shots of the guys practicing, putting on personalized jerseys (ordered up by Dead Guy, "sniffle"), and waxing philosophical over post-game beer blasts, but we never see them play. There's a big grudge match at the end versus the cops that goes—you guessed it—nowhere. There are no resolutions for the Estranged Father or Bitter Big Brother characters with their respective kin, and in the absence of anything else, I was actually hankering for these clichés to be resolved cliché-illy.

What we get instead for a plot device is this: Dead Guy had an unscrupulous secret life that even his womb-to-tomb comrades knew nothing about. When it's rather clumsily brought to light, they decide to fix it, which leads to "hilarious" scenes of the guys un-committing their dead pal's crimes. Their fear is that the gossipy populace of Lenexa will figure out that they've been victimized and ruin Dead Guy's sainted reputation.

But Dead Guy's crimes weren't particularly sophisticated. There's no way that people wouldn't have already figured it out, so the dilemma and the fix, like everything else here, just go nowhere. The fact that the moral and intellectual center of their little group is revealed to have been a petty criminal who took advantage of people who cared for and trusted him somehow does not give the boys pause. With their keening and caterwauling over everything else, from the weather to how mean their fathers were when they were kids, you'd think they'd be all over this. It's a testament to the cluelessness of the writing that they not only unquestioningly cover for the guy but have a park named in his honor.

Other than Rooker's scenery-chewing nut-job cop, the performances are forgettable. Neither Klein nor Baldwin has enough to do to make much of an impression, and the boys just rant and rave and spew unnatural-sounding speeches.

Allumination Filmworks doesn't do this one any favors. The transfer is dull and flat and has a TV-movie look to it, though I suspect this is how it was shot. Audio is fine, nothing special, though nothing special is needed for this dialogue-and-guitar-riff-heavy film. The only extra is a trailer, and it looks like the folks marketing this one didn't know what to say about it either.

Full Count is a poorly conceived and written entry in the seemingly bottomless genre of coming-of-age movies.

The court will now hear the defamation suit filed on behalf of the good people of Lenexa, Kansas.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 45

Perp Profile

Studio: Allumination Filmworks
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• Spanish
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Bad
• Comedy
• Drama
• Independent

Distinguishing Marks

• Trailer

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