directed by Tony Leahy
(Propane, 2002)

Mullets -- the haircut, not the fish -- have inspired countless websites and a TV series of the same name. Now they have a movie as well: Mulletville.

It concerns Dens Nelson (Tony Leahy), a Seattle-area film student who wants to be remembered as the "Woody Allen of Olyalup, Washington," the town where he allegedly grew up -- although after watching Mulletville, it's dicey to say any of its inhabitants ever grew up.

For his Cinema 415 class, Nelson has to direct a documentary, so he heads to his cousin Bob's trailer in Olyalup, where Cousin Bob (Kelly Boulware), one of Olyalup's leading mullets, is preparing for his annual kick-out-the-jams bash, complete with the inaugural appearance of his very own band, Industrial Park. Nelson's plan is to interview Cousin Bob and his girlfriend, Jiffy (Cynthia Geary), and their friends -- some of whom don't sport mullets but are just as caricaturish as those who do -- about what they expect of this year's bash.

The interviews, some of which are worth more than a chuckle or two -- witness Cousin Bob (no one in Olyalup seems to have a last name) comparing his relationship with Jiffy to Fight Club -- are then intercut with footage of Cousin Bob and his buds trashing the trailer in their delayed-adolescent attempts to outdo last year's bash.

Or such is the plan. Things quickly get off-track as Nelson's production crew (Brannon Ceradsky, Michael Cross and Robin Kurtz) go off-script in search of better material than Nelson was interested in finding. And it's not long before Nelson has locked himself in his production van and is videotaping himself instead of the party he came to expose.

Mulletville is a rather congenial movie, especially given that the film within the film was supposedly made out of spite: the now-pony-tailed Nelson, it seems, was the high school nerd. (His nickname, the Pip Streaker, should tell you all you need to know)

The performances are all adequate or more, not something you can always say about low-budget independent films. And there are some great characters, the best of which is easily Eazy-T (Hugh Berry), the town meth dealer, who speaks fluent urban cliche -- at the top of his lungs, of course.

Similarly, there are moments when Leahy strikes just the right tone, as when Jiffy -- whose goal is to make the party "more classier" than last year's -- learns that the box of wine she's put out is called "Le Table" because "that's Hispanic for 'the table.'"

Moreover, Mulletville is smoothly edited and cleanly shot, cinema verite-style, just what you'd expect from a film student out to document his cousin's midsummer night's meth orgy.

Where it fails, when it does, is in the script and the pacing. A film with so little action and so much dialogue needs memorable lines. Mulletville offers an occasional keeper, but not enough to maintain momentum.

The same can be said of the sight gags. The M-80s taking down the basketball hoop -- that's good. But it doesn't lead anywhere. As a result, Leahy's film might have been better at 83 minutes than 93.

Mulletville was made in 2002 but not released on video until late last year. Where it's headed now is unclear, although some kind of cult status is hardly out of the question. (It received an 8.1 out of 10 stars from Internet Movie Database reviewers, though it's possible all 12 ballot casters were members of Leahy's cast.)

It's not clear, either, what Leahy -- or his alter ego, Nelson -- has been up to since then. Perhaps Nelson really did get that three-picture deal with Dreamworks he was babbling about after the meth took hold.

Or perhaps he's simply planning a return to Mulletville. I can't say I'd be waiting for it with bated breath, but I can't say I'd mind, either.

Note: For all its congeniality, Mulletville is rated R for "language, drug use and sexual content." What a surprise.

- Rambles
written by Miles O'Dometer
published 20 November 2004

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