Judge Joel Pearce didn't get lonely on this street, but he did get bored.
Another crazed Elvis fan makes a movie.
Apparently, Lonely Street is adapted from the first of a series of novels, which must be pretty decent to attract such an impressive cast. Although I can't make any promises, I think you are probably better off reading the books.
In it, Bubba Mabry (Jay Mohr, Go) is a completely inept private investigator, who gets in way over his head when Elvis (Robert Patrick, Die Hard 2) hires him to tail a tabloid reporter who has discovered he's still alive. Bubba then bumbles through one of the most pointless plots in film history in order to…make it to the end of the movie, I guess.
Handled well, Lonely Street could have been a fun little movie. It has a great cast, and the lack of story wouldn't have mattered if this cast had been allowed to run free with the material. Jay Mohr makes a pretty good PI and is often funny, and Robert Patrick makes a much better Elvis than I would have expected. There are some decent small roles as well. The highlight is a ponytail-wearing Joe Mantegna as a rock music exec. He reaches the level of high camp that the rest of the cast doesn't even fully aspire to.
Unfortunately, the cast is held back by some very bad decisions. The worst is the voice-over that accompanies much of the film. PI movies have a long history of narration, but Lonely Street gets it all wrong. Sometimes Bubba talks as though he's looking back over the whole story. At other times, though, the narration is Bubba's internal monologue from while the story is unfolding, almost like a fictional commentary a la This is Spinal Tap. The difference? Spinal Tap is really funny and Lonely Street just goes for the cheapest possible laughs. There's also only one Elvis song, and it plays over and over and over again.
The production also reeks of cheap. The opening montage introducing the town at the beginning comes from clips later in the film. Some serious short-cuts are taken with compositing some cheesy special effects during the film, and I suspect it would have benefited from a longer shooting schedule that allowed for some additional takes to be filmed—I know these actors are capable of much more. The film was shot a couple years ago, which means it was also shelved for a while—probably while searching for a distributor.
Ultimately, though, the plot flounders under its own weight. The central mystery is compressed enough that several steps along the way are missing, so we often don't really know why things are happening until later. It's not that I guessed early who the killer was, it's that I didn't care. Once we do find out, we get to a poorly designed climax that is neither funny nor suspenseful. It's the kind of thing that many viewers will rent and watch on a Friday night, and some will get a few laughs out of it, but it's rarely liable to be watched again.
I can't comment much on the DVD, as I got a screening copy. Hopefully, the end product looks and sounds a lot better than this. The screener is non-anamorphic and highly compressed, and the stereo track is flat and dull. There weren't any special features on the disc.
I can't in good conscience recommend Lonely Street to anyone. If you want to see "Elvis is alive" comedy handled right, dust off your copy of Bubba Ho-Tep and watch a film with creativity, genuine humor, and some nice surprises. This film has no such ambition.
The King is dead.
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