Why did I sit through the entirety of this movie? Honestly, I should have known better than to watch a movie by the same guy that came up with Napoleon Dynamite. I absolutely don't understand why anyone was/is enamoured by that film. I weighed the positives and negatives associated with the movie before watching it and figured it was worth a shot. When your cast has Sam Rockwell, Jermaine Clement, Will Forte, and Danny McBride, shouldn't there be a few laughs? When you've got a comedy team assembled to tackle the idea of a biblical treasure hunter going down the path of fraud, shouldn't there be some merit?
Sadly, the highlight of this movie was a frankly over-the-top stereotype of a middle-eastern Jew played by Jermaine Clement. I don't believe he's Jewish and he's from New Zealand. From what I'm to understand, his half-Maori heritage could explain the darkened skin as say compared to Rockwell or McBride. I don't even know how to explain the character. Everything was a parody from the look to the sound. A couple times, his accent was used to play a "nobody understands you" gag. We're dealing with the lowest of "comedy" here at best. I ended up watching an interview and apparently the director and wife, his brother, and the entire crew are lovely and hard-working folks and it made for a great filming experience. Let me go on record stating that such wonder doesn't translate to the screen whatsoever.
I've been so lucky in the past in that I usually don't watch the lame movies by actors I really like. I can cite Tom Hanks as an example because I've never seen that volleyball-island movie and don't care to. I've not seen any of the wartime movies he's done either because war movies rarely appeal to me truthfully. I've not seen one movie that would warrant a negative review from me is what I'm saying. I've been lucky with Rockwell and Clement in the past as well, despite Rockwell picking some iffy choices. Maybe it's that I'm such a fan that I overlook some of the shit he's been in. Actually, Seven Psychopaths was pretty fucking bad. I should voice that. This movie ends the streak for everyone involved. I was on a "Kiwi" kick for the past few weeks and this seems to have brought that to an end. I might have to revisit What We Do In The Shadows again to wash the taste of this out of my mouth.
I'll actually write briefly about the film. Long story short, Rockwell plays the titular role. He is really good at finding biblical artifacts (though it's never explained whether or not he really finds them or is committing fraud the entire time). He gets a sweet deal by McBride's character and the church said character runs. I don't actually remember any of the character names except for Don Verdean, so excuse the poor explanation in that regard. The latest find doesn't go well, causing Verdean to commit fraud with Jemaine Clement's stereotype character. A few other things happen along the way that are not interesting, funny, or anything remotely positive. I'll spoil the end in stating that Verdean ends up in prison along with the stereotype character. None of it matters, far as I can tell. Hopefully this review and the ending spoiler will talk people out of seeing this movie.
I want to close by explaining my process in choosing to watch Don Verdean. I read some reviews. They were all over the place. Anywhere from 1/10 to 10/10. The high-rated reviews related it to Napoleon Dynamite where the low-rated ones said it wasn't like Napoleon Dynamite at all. You can see my dilemma because the low-rated reviews were enough to make me want to see it. "Oh, maybe the Hess brothers that wrote Napoleon Dynamite got their shit together and decided to steer clear of the bullshit Mormon attempt at humour that somehow got them a cult following". Nope. It was trash. It had the same low-budget "trying to be quirky" feel that seems to be the signature of the Hess Brothers. The actors and thoroughly dissected reviews set me up for failure because I wouldn't wish this film on my enemies. Under no circumstance should you see this movie and I apologize on behalf of cinema to anyone else who has made the mistake of taking on such a task. We should collectively sue the Hess brothers for the two hours we'll never get back.