Director Jim Hosking, and co-writer David Wike craft a surreal experience in the form of An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn. From the start, it’s an odd movie, and one that feels like you’re watching alien lifeforms try to emulate humans. But it is hilarious! It’s an exercise in stretching a joke, and that’s what Hosking does so well. He also takes what’s real and morphs it just enough to turn actors, every one of them, into cartoons. For instance, Emile Hirsch‘s delivery always ends in overlong stares, or strained, exaggerated smiles. And in a few sequences, he believes that by donning a blond pixie-cut wig (meant for a girl) and sunglasses, no one will recognize him…even though his outfit was exactly the same as the last scene.
Each character tries to outdo the other, and this talented mix of actors don’t just chew the scenery, they gobble it up and ask for seconds. Even the word eccentric doesn’t capture the performances; it’s really something special. It’s such a bizarre story, one that has a tad in common with the likes of Napoleon Dynamite (just to get you in the ballpark) but is way more outlandish. To keep from being a collection of skits, what keeps this on the rails is that this is a rom-com. You read that right…a Jim Hosking rom-com.
It’s a wacky trip, one with Hosking’s greasy paw prints all over it, but there’s something to it, otherwise why would Craig Robinson, Matt Williams, and Aubrey Plaza have signed on for this weird plot? It’s highly awkward, but also precious and just plain charming. The actors really embrace their parts, and you can’t help but buy into it. Sure, it’s crazy, but also surprising, and possibly the funniest movie of 2018 you didn’t see coming. Fun fact, this was the film that showed after Halloween at Fantastic Fest this year, and coincidentally, this is executive produced by David Gordon Green. So that’s a mark of quality.
I’ll say one thing for Hosking and Wike: they really get the best use out of Jemaine Clement because they know how to use him. He was really wasted in plenty of films like Gentleman Broncos and Don Verdean, but here, he shines as Colin, and he and Plaza make the film their own. And of course the titular Beverly Luff Linn is played so well by Robinson. He has very few lines, but his role is central to the mad-cap plot.
At many times, everything is over the top – the acting, the wardrobe, the sets, and the plot – but none more so that the musical score which heightens scenes with a frenzied fever pitch. The bouts of extreme tempo are so overpowering. It’s less like theme music, and just a visceral acoustic punch to heighten particular scenes. Your ears might ring afterwards, but it works so well.
An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn is full of nonsensical humor. It’s highly absurd and wild, but it pulls back just short of gross-out. It’s a trifecta of sight gags, uncomfortable situations, and dead pan delivery from a great cast which firmly put this film in the win column. Even if you weren’t a fan of The Greasy Strangler, or even the “G is for Grandad” segment in ABCs of Death 2, don’t worry. This is very approachable and shows that Hosking (and Wike) is trying to grow as a filmmaker…just don’t change too much, Jim.