FEELING MINNESOTA (1996) **
This very motion-full motion picture is one of those independent films that, contrary to their label, are very dependent. Dependent on trendiness, from Tarantinoisms to modish grunge. Dependent scene by scene improvisations: the writer-director, in his first feature,seems to have not the vaguest about what must come next.
Dependent on neo-clicheism. Just as in hippie days the reaction to the bourgeois dress code led to jeans --torn at the knee if possible, --long hair and other accoutrements which became the new uniforms of the new conformism of revolt; just as today back to front baseball caps express reverse individualism, in certain movies studio cliches are often countered by new sets of statements, preferably absurd, and repeated from picture to picture. I won't give you specific examples. Glance, and you'll see them.
"FM" is, sort of, about a kind of sex-and-money trio, sort of, a Cain-Abel thing closer to a Cain-Cain, sort of, a sickish All in the Family. A blondie, Freddie (Diaz), in a sort of wedding dress, is pursued by a car. Red (Lindo), drags her violently to her own wedding to creepy Sam (D'Onofrio). Seems that Red (who is black) runs a strip-joint plus a drug operation. He accuses Sam, his accountant, of stealing money. He punishes him with that marriage. (Go figure).
Sam's younger brother is Jjack, so named after a typo on his birth certificate --but really in one of the many efforts of a script straining for cuteness and novelty. Sam was always lording it over Jjack, as seen in the opening flashback of the two in their childhood.
Jjack (Reeves) is a smalltime hood who can't stay out of jail. He surfaces at his brother's wedding, one that breathes low-class taste through every pore, assuming weddings have pores. This is nicely done, from outrageously ugly clothes to the kind of music that Martin Scorsese's Mafiosi love).
The brotherly antagonism has not abated. Jjack meets the new missus, he looks at her, she looks at him and, in a flash, they rush to vigorous sex in the john. (Oddly, the film "Maybe, Maybe Not" has a similar scene early on). )
A the party, the boys' Mom keels over dead, is buried pronto. Immediately after the ceremony, Jjack and the bride re-engage in sex, boucing and unsafe since it is inside a car that rolls down, like Jack and Jill Went Down the Hill.
Up to now matters are kookily, sporadically amusing. These are followed by Jjack and Freddie sort of eloping and Sam going after them. The menu includes stealing stolen money, fights, beatings,a corpse that may not be corpse, other niceties. Weirdly, much of the action takes place in contiguous places, a motel out of "It Happened One Night," a restaurant, etc.
Things get exponentially looser and more unplanned. Freddie, an ecdysiast, dreams of joining the chorus girls in Nirvana, which for her is Las Vegas with its four-dollar steaks and other goodies. As funny a line as any comes when she vocalizes her desires. Sitting with Jjack by the dirtier-than-in-"Diabolique," empty pool of a third-rate Minnesotan motel, she yearns for the Vegas pools "with water in them."
Later, in the midst of troubles, mayhem and confusion, Jjack returns to his and Freddie's room with a jovial "Hi, honey, I'm home!" which, given its usual Family Values context, also becomes funny.
The main performers are good, but handicapped by all being idiots. Dan Aykroyd is miscast against type as a dishonest cop. Still, somewhere in this salad there's the kernel of a possibly good idea, but it gets lost in the nonsense, sketchiness, incoherence and other Achilles' heels of the story. Many heels. Just count the characters and multiply by two.