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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 10.53%
Average: 15.79%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 32 user ratings

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Killer Diller
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by Erik Childress

"If Vernon’s-A-Rockin’, Don’t Come-A-Knockin’"
3 stars

A screenwriter once went down to the crossroads and fell down to their knees. They asked the Lord above for mercy and how many times that damn song can be covered, especially by Eric Clapton. The same holds true for Killer Diller, which while extremely loosely based on a book by Clyde Edgerton, falls victim to the same storylines and clichés we’ve seen since Dustin Hoffman started banging on his head.

In the film, Wesley (William Lee Scott) is a convicted troublemaker of the grand theft auto variety. At one pit stop with his latest hotwire job, he hits on the wrong girl and then has to hit a few more people landing him in jail and on his way to a halfway home. It’s run by Bible-thumping Ned (Fred Willard) whose brother (John Michael Higgins) runs a fat camp across the street and doesn’t like the image these criminals bring to the community.

Hard to see what his beef is considering this is the least-threatening set of criminals this side of your grandma finding a penny on the street. They contribute to society serving food at the local cafeteria and more prominently as a hymn-minded gospel band so bland it results in nursing home walkouts. Wesley is a bluesman at heart, holding on to his prized guitar case like he was El Mariachi, and would almost rather go back to jail than not be able to bust a tune.

Here’s comes the part of the movie where we go...and that’s where he meets, etc... The etcera is Vernon (Lucas Black), an autistic lad who runs around town driving his invisible car. He also plays a mighty mean piano and Wesley wants him in the band. But (and there’s always a “but”) Vernon’s father (W. Earl Brown, who once played Warren in There’s Something About Mary) doesn’t want him to. Is he a bad father? No. Unkempt, but loving. This just has to be the film’s conflict. He said “no.”

Slight as it is, it’s nice to have something to drive the film’s story since it’s mostly nothing more than sneaking in more aggressive band practice and keeping it from the designated father figures. Vernon, like Hoffman’s Raymond, has a rocking condition that frequently causes someone in the perimeter to ask “why don’t you stop rockin?” By the fourth time, Vernon’s subsequent freak-outs parallel our own at what a lame device it is to create strife. Taken even as a double meaning, Vernon likes to rock, whether it be on a keyboard or back-and-forth. Except I hardly found myself “rockin’” at any time during the film. The music certainly isn’t bad, but you could walk into any bar with live music and see the equivalent of The Killer Diller Blues Band.

Lucas Black does a nice job with Vernon, preventing him from becoming another gooey caricature in the Cuba Gooding/Juliette Lewis realm, and it’s his performance that keeps us involved (partly because he gets the best lines.) Singer Niki Crawford has the Beyonce role (only not as meaty, think about THAT) and is the only standout in the band because of her pipes. Fred Willard has some nice moments, but turns into Fred Willard at the drop of a hat which is more than we can say for his Best In Show/A Mighty Wind collaborator, Higgins, who for lack of creativity essentially has the Larry Miller role.

Writer/director Tricia Brock has stripped away all the meat from Killer Diller and just left us with the fat. Music, handicaps, a little better music, change, conflict, last-minute reforms, snooze. Two dimensions would be a welcome stretch for most of these characters since both their presents and pasts aren’t defined enough for us to offer more interest than a local talent show. Some folks looking for unchallenging, uninspired easy-to-swallow 90 minutes of entertainment may find it in Killer Diller. Personally, I’d rather put on the soundtrack to Blues Brothers 2000.

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originally posted: 03/24/04 05:22:39
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Tribeca Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/13/08 Hanah This was an amazing movie. One of the best I've seen in a while. 5 stars
6/10/06 Carolyn Hazlett I loved it! 5 stars
5/11/06 Tom Billings Best film I've seen in five years. 5 stars
5/04/06 Steve Great movie 5 stars
5/04/06 Shelley Its sweet, humorous, and has a happy ending. Great Music. 5 stars
5/01/06 Mike Corrigan Great MOVIE!!! 5 stars
4/10/06 shell loved it 5 stars
8/04/05 Jacob Mehlhouse great movie, especially enjoyed seeing the amazing musician Jared Tyler 5 stars
8/21/04 MJKrech Fabulous movie! Absolutely loved it! 5 stars
8/04/04 Dawn Danowski I thought the film was awsome 5 stars
7/15/04 joshua I liked it and though tit was funny 5 stars
6/13/04 neeli i loved it dont know what else to say it was great 5 stars
6/11/04 Faiza Malik i loved the movie it was great i especially liked Calvin 5 stars
5/17/04 Tony Romo i think it is my favorite movie of the summer 5 stars
5/13/04 Jason Staddie fun for all ages, i loved it 5 stars
5/12/04 sheperd owens it was the shiznit 5 stars
5/10/04 CLT Lucas Black is brilliant once again. Contrary to what some opine, the music is rockin'. 4 stars
5/10/04 Susan Nogaj Good flick! You'll love it! 5 stars
5/03/04 ken johnson i liked it, i thought i could appeal to a vast audience 5 stars
4/26/04 becca williams great film and i agree calvin is hot 5 stars
4/24/04 debbie lallouz i thought it was great, i thought it was fun and a great movie for the family 5 stars
4/22/04 hosteese great movie, although the story line was a little to complex for me, good looking guys!!! 5 stars
4/15/04 scott brown i loved it 5 stars
4/14/04 jenn rogers i loved it i thought it was great 5 stars
4/08/04 Greg purdum excellent movie, very entertaining, for the entire family 5 stars
4/06/04 marion shermarke great movie beautiful camera shots 5 stars
4/06/04 Sven Snowder Excellent..... 5 stars
4/03/04 Toni Lynn Allen I really liked the movie. Lucas Black did an outstanding job as Vernon. 4 stars
3/26/04 Mike Thompson very cool movie 4 stars
3/25/04 Becky Pieske Incredible. Fun. Entire family can enjoy. 5 stars
3/22/04 dylan patrick Fantastic. Great music. Fun for the whole family. lots of laughs! 5 stars
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  28-Apr-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 15-Jan-2008



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