The good people of Lenexa, Kansas, were either so happy to have a movie shot in their corner of the heartland or so forgiving of those who invaded their town to do so that they have yet to cause a stink about "Full Count," a movie that portrays their town as a dismal dead-end burg filled with corrupt cops, washed-up has-beens, rednecks, rubes, and jackasses. It's the stereotypical small town where the best thing to do is dream of a way to leave.
The film, the directorial debut of actor Jason Wiles (who also co-wrote the screenplay with playwright Shem Bitterman), was titled "Lenexa, 1 Mile" during its festival circuit run; it was rechristened with the generic name "Full Count" for its direct-to-video release. It's an appropriate change - like the film itself, the title is clichéd, dull, and meaningless.
It's the summer of 1988, and a handful of pals-since-childhood are celebrating their last year before college. Right from the top, the movie begs us to loathe these chumps; their moments of male bonding at the local bar are obnoxious, and when they retaliate to an over-the-top shakedown by the local cop (Michael Rooker) by trashing the cop's house, it goes beyond playful vandalism. These guys, they're just a bunch of assholes.
Worse, the movie never really puts any effort into distinguishing them, even though they all get long speeches about the meaning of friendship and future hopes and all the other requisite coming-of-age filler. So when one of them turns up dead the next morning, we're not really touched as we are left trying to remember which one he was.
He was the Good One, the guy who was going to go off to Princeton and make something for himself, far away from the small town gloom of Lenexa. He also had another dream: to play softball for the summer. Turns out he signed up his buddies for the local league, and even called up some ringers to play with them. And dammit, the others say, if the vague dead guy wants us to play softball for the summer, play softball we shall!
Yes, but this isn't really the point of the movie. Sure, the filmmakers can haul in a goofy subplot about one of the guy's estranged fathers (William Baldwin) playing for the team, and another subplot about a townie (Chris Klein) who would've made it to the majors had he not blown out his knee. But neither of these storylines amount to anything at all, as if Wiles felt they belonged here but couldn't figure out what to do next, so he just forgets about them as the movie progresses. (Oh, and Klein is asked to sport long hair and play a bitter burnout. It's a miserable casting choice, and Klein, who sleepwalks through his role, seems to know it.)
The movie's really about how the friends deal with the dirty cop, although this, too, doesn't really pan out. (Don't even ask about the Big Game at the end, in which the friends face off against the cops. It's all build-up and zero pay-off, and the irrelevance is frustrating.) There's also something about how the dead friend had some deep, dark criminal secrets, which the surviving friends then attempt to correct with a series of uninvolving capers and rambling episodes. But guess what? Yup: doesn't add up to anything. Oh, and then Michael Beach shows up for a couple scenes as the town's good cop, does a laughably awkward Denzel impression, then leaves; par for the course in terms of relevance.
It's all a long-winded, often incoherent shambles of a story; its only real reason for being seems to be so Wiles can have his cast deliver speech after speech about growing up, leaving home, friendship, family, and so on. We even get a "Wonder Years"/"Stand By Me"-style first person narrator to deliver even more monologues on the subjects. But it's all as shallow as the watered-down white-bread music that's supposed to pass for "blues" on the soundtrack. This is a plotless exercise in drama school monologuing, and the young cast (which includes Jason Ritter, Josh Stewart, and Austin Nichols) barely provides enough energy to make up for the ramble.
As for the good people of the real Lenexa, Kansas, I suppose their ultimate reaction to the movie was the same as the rest of us: a shrug, a yawn, and an eye-roll or two.
Video & Audio
"Full Count" receives a rather bland anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) transfer, with drab, soft colors and an overall muted look that's not very attractive. Granted, the low-budget film probably never looked good, but still. The soundtrack, presented in Dolby 2.0, is serviceable but unimpressive, with a flatness that doesn't hinder the film too much. Optional Spanish subtitles are offered.
The movie's trailer is included, as are previews for other Allumination releases.
It's a go-nowhere drama with a mediocre presentation. Of course you should Skip It.