The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle:
I love being rewarded when taking a chance on the unknown; David Russo's weird indie film delivers more than its fair share of rewards and treats. You'd be forgiven for taking a pass after looking at the DVD's cold, antiseptic cover featuring what appears to be a blue fish going down the toilet. It's eye-catching but doesn't really sell the earthy pleasures of this weird movie - even with a quote comparing the movie to Eraserhead right there on the cover. But take a chance on this endlessly funny, weird and entertaining indie, you'll be glad you did.
If you've gotten kind of tired being corn fed regurgitated swill by Hollywood, but hate getting burned by indie movies that sacrifice coherency and enjoyment for style, you'll get a pleasant slap upside the head by Little Dizzle. Hollywood would never dream of making a movie that hinges on men giving birth to blue fish, but this is what Russo gives us. Marshall Allman (True Blood) plays Dory with a ruffled loser's charm. After losing his data-wrangling job he takes a desperate chance with a janitorial company, under the wing of tough-guy custodian O.C. (Vince Vieluf). O.C.'s fast-and-loose ethos quickly leads the janitorial gang to a side gig tasting cookies for one of their clients, a chemical food engineering company.
Things go even further south at this point, as Russo heaps psychedelic weirdness upon his already crackpot plot. However, viewers will happily enjoy being dragged along, set up by Russo and editor Billy McMillan's bubbling pace, razor-sharp edits and perfect music supplied mostly by someone or thing named 'Awesome'. It's clear Russo wants a stylish picture, style drips from every frame, but it's mostly smart stuff meant to advance the plot rather than hide any deficiencies. Dory's breakdown at his first job bounces with fragmenting mania, but as his life slows to a hallucinated stupor brought on by the experimental cookies he's become addicted to, the screen becomes woozy and full of rich, racing lights.
Little Dizzle is full of visual invention, but it's anchored by nonstop solid performances from a somewhat marquee-shy crowd. Natasha Lyonne, (American Pie) cookie P.R. rep Tracy, is probably the biggest name here - she emphasizes the few layers of her character just enough. Allman's always believable and frequently quite funny in a balancing act of a role that could easily have been a disastrous one. Vieluf might be the real star here, with manic energy and conviction nailing another dangerous parody of a role - part Danny Zuko, and part Harry Dean Stanton in Repo Man (a film in kindred spirit). Russo's wrangled an ensemble of sweet performances that sell his twisted fantasy with psycho sincerity.
With relevant visual conceits stacking up as if in the mind of a schizoid pattern-junkie, Dizzle comes racing towards its only real misstep; a more-or-less open-ended conclusion of the uplifting and ambiguous variety. After 90 minutes of mania, viewers might want a few more answers, and a bit more pizzazz than Russo doles out with his quietly satisfied, life-is-goofy ending that seems pulled from the 21st Century Indie Comedy Handbook, the one with the weird blue fish. But if being sent on our way with a gentle pat on the back is the worst thing that happens in this crazy cinematic trip, we should count ourselves lucky. Little Dizzle isn't a stylish indie wank-fest, and it's not a Hollywood snoozer sequel, it's fiercely inventive, hilarious and weird, filled with perfect performances and just the slightest let-down of an ending - exactly what you want to find when you take a chance on something new.
A fine looking 1.78:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen presentation mostly belies the fact that Dizzle is a low-budget effort. Despite a healthy amount a film grain, the picture is crisp and detailed enough, with no compression problems to speak of. Colors look natural (or stylized as needed) and are nicely saturated, especially the color blue.
Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound Audio and 2.0 Audio tracks are available, both of which seem fine. The 5.1 track adds a bit of dimensionality to the mix, but doesn't appear to be wildly active. Dialog is easy to absorb and the great soundtrack is mixed up front but not too loudly.
You may feel a little weird as the American Express logo (Tribeca Film partner) pops up all over the place, especially as it dominates a dearth of extras. Director Russo speaks for about 6 minutes total in two different Director Interviews and editor McMillan introduces four-minutes worth of Deleted Scenes. Trailers and Closed Captioning complete the set.
Little Dizzle isn't a stylish indie wank-fest, and it's not a Hollywood snoozer sequel, it's fiercely inventive, hilarious and weird, filled with perfect performances and just the slightest let-down of an ending - plus more clever grace notes, silly stuff you'll look back on laughing, and heart than you'd think possible. It's exactly what you want to find when you take a chance on something new, and even though it sports bupkiss for extras, it's still Highly Recommended.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com