By turns amusingly sour and unassumingly sweet, "Little Big Top" is a lightly likable trifle that benefits greatly from the offbeat casting of vet heavy Sid Haig ("The Devil's Rejects") as Seymour Smiles, an aging, unemployed circus clown who's fortuitously sidetracked on the road toward self-destruction.

By turns amusingly sour and unassumingly sweet, “Little Big Top” is a lightly likable trifle that benefits greatly from the offbeat casting of vet heavy Sid Haig (“The Devil’s Rejects”) as Seymour Smiles, an aging, unemployed circus clown who’s fortuitously sidetracked on the road toward self-destruction. After fleeting exposure in a few theatrical tents, writer-director Ward Roberts’ small-budget indie may appeal to ladies, gentlemen and children of all ages as homevid fare.

Returning to his hometown of Peru, Ind., Seymour seeks nothing more than the blissful solitude of a drunken stupor. He staggers out of his decrepit home to seek work as clown trainer at a local amateur circus only when he’s no longer able to afford 24/7 inebriation. Early scenes have an air of deadpan absurdity, as Haig fearlessly and funnily plays Seymour as a hygienically challenged derelict — you can practically see how bad he smells — before pic predictably evolves into a seriocomic tale of personal redemption through clowning around. Even after Seymour begins to clean up his act, Haig maintains just enough irascibility to keep things interesting. Tech credits are pro.

Little Big Top

Production

A Fly High Films production. Produced by Christina Mauro, Jessica Petelle-Slagle. Executive producers, Thomas McDermott, Teresa L. Mann, Michael Blakehorn, Daniel B. Roberts, Terry W. Smith, Ron Short, Aaron McDermott. Directed, written by Ward Roberts.

Crew

Camera (color), Jim Timperman; editor, Jonathan De Gatto; music, Tom Gustin, Don Smith; production designer, Amy Montgomery. Reviewed on DVD, Houston, Oct. 29, 2008. Running time: 83 MIN.

With

Sid Haig, Richard Riehle, Hollis Resnik, Mel England, Jacob Zachar.
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