The Importance of Being Russell (2006) – By Duane L. Martin

 Russell is a white trash redneck.  So is his wife Sissy.  So are their friends.  So is everyone in their town.  Russell is special though.  See, he’s not only a redneck, he’s an inventor.  A visionary if you will.  He invents all kinds of little do-dads, much to the dismay of his nagging wife Sissy who gets upset with him because he’s always out working on his inventions and doesn’t pay enough attention to her.  Well Russell’s tired of being nagged, but generally ignores all her bitching and goes on with his inventing.  One of his inventions is something that he don’t even know what it is.  He just seems to keep working on it at night and doesn’t remember anything about what he did or what it is.  He just needs one more part to finish it, but he doesn’t know what the part is yet.

Things really get crazy for Russell when a local scumbag preacher gets busted for not really being a preacher.  Turns out, it was the same one that married him and Sissy, which means they’re not really married.  They tried to hide that little fact from Russell in an effort to get him re-married by renewing his wedding vows, but at the last minute, his buddy, who can’t keep a secret without twitching, lets the cat out of the bag.  Well this was Russell’s way out.  He grabbed his buddy and they picked up another buddy who was working as a security guard at a local quickie mart and the three of them headed off for the big city.  Unfortunately for Russell, the big city didn’t turn out to be all that great for him.  See, there’s this cult of uber consumer corporate citified types, and they’re trying to indoctrinate Russell and his friends by injecting them with this green goo, reminiscent of the stuff they used in Re-Animator.  Anyone shot with this stuff instantly becomes a citified, super corporate, super citified consumer of all things.  Their ultimate goal however is not just to convert him, but to get him to finish his invention, which it turns out, allows people to call the future.  A future, which it turns out Russell plays a huge part in.  Russell eventually discovers what his invention does, how he fits into the grand scheme of the universe, and how nice it is to have someone in your life who really loves you and stands by you through anything.  There’s actually more to this movie than what I’ve said here, but I don’t want to write a book trying to describe everything.

At first glance this seems like just another cliche redneck comedy that probably wouldn’t be all that funny because it’s all been done before.  However, once you get to watching the movie, you find out that that’s not the case at all.  What we have here is a very fun and humorous movie that breaks out of that stereotypical redneck movie mold.  The description of the film on the back of the DVD case actually doesn’t do it justice and is part of the reason I had such low expectations before I watched it.

There were three key elements that all joined together to make this such a great movie.  The first is the acting.  Everyone in this film did a great job with their roles, but most notable was John Pickle as Russell.  He was great throughout the film, but when he got injected accidentally with the "citification" goo and he turned all citified, he instantly switched characters, doing a complete 180 from his normal persona and started talking and acting like a coked up salesman from the 80’s.  It was shocking to see him pull it off so completely and so brilliantly.  The way he played that bit kind of reminded me of Jim Carrey back when he was actually funny.  The entire cast was great and should all be really proud of their performances.

The second element is the story.  While the story did touch on many of the redneck cliches, it did them in amusing ways and didn’t get bogged down with them.  What made the story great is that it broke new ground and took the characters into places and situations that allowed for fresh story and character ideas to emerge.  This was most especially true once they got to the big city.  That’s when things really started getting crazy and going off in bizarre directions.

The third element was the look of the film, including not only the set design and costumes, but the visual effects as well.  This film has literally the best visual effects I’ve ever seen in an independent film.  This film had visual effects on a grand scale, especially at the end, and they looked just awesome.

There were a lot of other great elements to this film, including the editing, lighting, etc…, but I think those three are the three that really stand out the most.

Aboout the only thing I can really ding this film on is that I couldn’t quite make out what was being said sometimes between the accents, extraneous noise (room reverb, etc…) or just generally low recording levels.  This however was only a minor problem at best and only in a few spots.  Generally, I could understand everything that was being said perfectly.

This movie is a lot more than you’d assume at first glance and has won many awards for its excellence.  After seeing the film, I can understand why.  It’s a great film, and everyone involved in it has a lot to be proud of.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out the film’s website at http://www.russellmovie.com.  Believe me, it’s worth checking out.