June 5, 1999 -- "Dill Scallion," a mock documentary about County-Western music, premiered last night at the Fox Theatre in Laramie, Wyoming. The event was noteworthy because so few films ever premiere here.
The film is definitely funny with some outrageous jokes which some have compared to the over-the-top humor of the Simpsons. Dill Scallion (played by Billy Burke) a school bus driver from Mule Shoe, Texas, has dreams of being a big Country-Western star. The documentary follows his sudden rise to stardom.
While Scallion seems innocent at first, it soon becomes clear he has a dark side which comes to the surface as he becomes more popular. He becomes petulant and demanding. His ego is swelled by groupies and he begins to treat his fans badly.
Meanwhile, his band, "The Dillionnaires," led by Bubba Pearl (portrayed very nicely by David Koechner of "Wag the Dog"), looks on with disgust. Pearl, who claims to be the son of Minnie Pearl, remains true to the music and the fans while Scallion gets lost on his ego trip.
In the end, Scallion gets his comeuppance, while Pearl continues to follow his elusive dream. The main reason, it turns out that Scallion becomes popular is because of the "Scallion Shuffle," a dance step he developed and was then altered by a foot injury. In order to maintain his proficiency with the shuffle, he has to re-injure the foot before every performance.
When the shuffle fails him, it is suggested that what he needs is a new "hook" to attract the fans. He objects to the term "hook," saying it sounds too cold and impersonal. "I prefer the word gimmick," Scallion says. At another point in the film, Scallion refers to his "unnatural talent."
There are plenty of broad, obvious jokes in the film. Several jokes refer to inbreeding. A line from Scallion's song, "You Shared You," about his cheating girlfriend is "Grandpa sure was grateful when you shared you." Another song in the movie talks about people finding romance at a family reunion. There are plenty of more subtle jokes as well. The film is both social commentary and satire.
The film's main weakness is its inconsistency, slow pacing at times and its occasional low sound and image quality. Most of this is masked, however, by the documentary-style format. A couple of the songs in the film, "You Shared You," and "Tube Top Boogie," are quite good and the musical score by Sheryl Crow is solid.
There is also an over-the-top performance by Henry Winkler as a record producer and cameos by Willie Nelson, LeAnn Rimes, Travis Tritt and Robert Wagner. Director-writer Jordan Brady also appears as the director of the documentary movie that is supposedly being made of Dill Scallion's rise to fame. Brady gets the most out of his budget of less than half a million dollars by using some footage from Country-Western film festivals which allowed the Dill Scallion band on stage. It is a good first effort by Brady and I look forward to his future projects. This film rates a C.
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