The post-"Napoleon Dynamite" era is in full swing with Tim Skousen's larky, good-natured "The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang." The influence is obvious and the pedigree is direct, with Skousen having served as assistant director, and producer/co-editor Jeremy Coon holding the same posts on the Fox Searchlight youth-pic phenom.

The post-“Napoleon Dynamite” era is in full swing with Tim Skousen’s larky, good-natured “The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang.” The influence is obvious and the pedigree is direct, with Skousen having served as assistant director, and producer/co-editor Jeremy Coon holding the same posts on the Fox Searchlight youth-pic phenom. “Napoleon” fans will never admit to it, but “Sasquatch” is funnier, hinging on a bogus Bigfoot sighting and some hilariously stupid dudes. Slamdance competish pic reps surer commercial prospects than the vast majority of Sundance offerings, and could play nicely offshore.

The story structure isn’t exactly original, as it dabbles in the Tarantino game that introduces a set of characters, then winds back in time to introduce the next set, until it reaches the present. Gavin (Jeremy Sumpter), Hobie (Hubbel Palmer) and Maynard (Rob Pinkston) are fans of medieval fantasy and sword fights. Their nifty Three Stooges-like swordplay games, however, piss off 20-ish slacker neighbor Zerk (Justin Long), and he quickly puts an end to the shenanigans.

Later, Gavin and the guys, along with pal Sophie (Addie Land), take a walk in the woods and stumble on supposed Bigfoot leavings — tracks and a sizable turd — which trigger the interest of “expert” Dr. Artemis Snodgrass (Carl Weathers).

But, Zerk and his profoundly stoned buddy Shirts (Joey Kern) actually are responsible for the bogus signs, which they proceed to sell on the web.

Skousen’s goofy package (which includes business with bully Shane, played with a smirk by Michael Mitchell) leaves the impression of an America filled with Beavises and Butt-Heads — who some of the thesps mimic vocally. Inevitably, this will make for Comedy Hell for some auds and pure bliss for others. But Skousen and his colorfully assembled cast know precisely what they’re doing and who they’re playing to.

Long and Kern come close to stealing the pic, but Palmer, Land and Sumpter hold their own with some scenes that could become classics with certain vidstore cognoscenti.

Munn Powell’s widescreen lensing and music supervisor Tracy Lynch-Sanchez’s metal rock selections add class and texture.

The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang

Production

A Jeremy Coon and Trigger Street production in association with Trigger Street Independent and Crazy Dreams Entertainment. Produced by Jeremy Coon, Adam Kassen, Mark Kassen, Randy Holleschau, Kevin Spacey, Dana Brunetti. Co-producer, Craig Anderson. Directed, written by Tim Skousen.

Crew

Camera (Deluxe color, Panavision widescreen), Munn Powell; editors, Jeremy Coon, Skousen; music, John Swihart; music supervisor, Tracy Lynch-Sanchez; production designer, Cory Lorenzen; costume designer, Kim Wingard; sound (Dolby), Matt Davis; sound designer, Harry Snodgrass; stunt coordinator, Steve Buckley; associate producers, Sarah Serata, Danny Wright; assistant director, Michael A. Newton; casting, Jeffery Passero. Reviewed at Slamdance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 21, 2006. Running time: 86 MIN.

With

Jeremy Sumpter, Justin Long, Addie Land, Hubbel Palmer, Joey Kern, Rob Pinkston, Michael Mitchell, Jon Gries, Carl Weathers, Stephen Tobolowsky.
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