The Man in “Kill the Man” is the Establishment, as represented by a thinly veiled stand-in for the Kinko copying chain. That should give you some idea of this indie’s dated mindset. “Power to the People!” slogans, throwback stereotypes and gobs of gooey soft rock add up to modest ancillary returns for October Films’ Rogue Pictures, which latched onto this forced comedy-romance at Sundance. Following in the wake of “You’ve Got Mail,” which milked similar premise, pic feels like a yuppie-antiseptic stab at gonzo humor.
Amiably laid-back Luke Wilson and manic Joshua Malina co-star, respectively, as Stanley and Bob, co-owners of a languishing copy shop called Long Shot Copies. Biz name comes from $ 100,000 windfall Stanley received by making a half-court shot at a basketball game. Directly across the street is the corporate giant, King Co., which is methodically undermining the boys’ every attempt to increase business.
Comic situations, such as they are, revolve around David-and-Goliath contest between the little guy and the conglomerate. Stanley has already thrown in the towel, but Bob refuses to fold and whips up numerous idiotic schemes to improve sales. Visit by a rappin’ urban guerrilla (Phil LaMarr) sparks renewed outrage. More determined than ever to stand their ground, boys resort to stink bombs, sabotage, even counterfeiting. In one off-putting dream sequence, Stanley guns down competitor’s manager.
Poorly integrated romance subplot brings in Stanley’s impatient-to-wed girlfriend, Vicki (Paula Devicq), Vicki’s warring parents (Teri Garr and Michael McKean) and multiple uses of Air Supply’s “Lost in Love.” Wilson, with his halting delivery and easygoing manner, is good at playing the slow-to-rile patsy; Malina has energy to burn but is wasted on mostly dated sitcom gags.
Usually reliable Garr and McKean do what little they can with their throwaway characters; LaMarr plays a sanitized version of blaxploitation radical, and Phillip Rhys is grunge-rocker friend. Jim Fyfe has a funny bit as King Co.’s manager.
Improv comics-turned-helmers Tom Booker and Jon Kean betray their roots with routines so obvious and old they feel set in cement. Too, pic’s emphasis is all wrong: Backstory, with $ 100,000 bucket, would have been far more interesting. Franco-Giacomo Carbone’s production design is the only standout tech credit: His King Co. plant, with balloon scarecrow on the roof, is as uninviting as several of the big chains ID’d in the script.