Practically parodying a slumming B-lister’s phone-it-in, cash-the-check indie perf, Dermot Mulroney is good for a giggle — just one — in “The Rambler,” writer-director Calvin Lee Reeder’s randomly splattering take on the back-country-road movie. Sporting highway cop shades and a 10-gallon hat, Mulroney’s guitar-slinging, chain-smoking good ol’ boy beholds a steady stream of white-trash miscreants en route, circuitously, to his brother’s Oregon farm. Shot none too crisply in New Mexico, this increasingly frenzied and blood-soaked B-movie time-waster is best consumed late in the evening at home, and thus best suited to Anchor Bay’s VOD arm.Wandering itself, “The Rambler” starts with Mulroney’s monosyllabic ex-con getting sprung after a four-year stint, whereupon he’s warmly greeted at a depraved trailer-park party and given back his old pawnshop job. Knocked-up ex-g.f. Cheryl (Natasha Lyonne, having fun) blows a gasket, and the Rambler splits to thumb rides, one steered by a gentle madman (James Cady) who captures his patrons’ dreams on VHS, literally blowing their minds. Bursting with cheap f/x, the pic is often tedious when not repugnant, but it’s hard to dislike. Mulroney sings near the end.
An Anchor Bay Films release of an Also Known as Pictures presentation of an XYZ Films, Brooklyn Reptyle Films production, in association with Instinctive Film, WindowLight Pictures. Produced by Nate Bolotin, Roger M. Mayer, Christo Dimassis, James Lejsek, Clayton Young. Executive producers, Nick Spicer, Aram Tertzakian, Kevin Kasha, David Dickson, Joe Jenckes, Tony Rollo, Cathy Rollo. Directed, written by Calvin Lee Reeder.
Camera (color, HD, widescreen), David McFarland; editor, Buzz Pierce; music, Heather McIntosh, Scott Honea, Jed Maheu; production designer, Geoff Flint; costume designer, Jesse Trevino. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Park City at Midnight), Jan. 23, 2013. Running time: 99 MIN.
Dermot Mulroney, Lindsay Pulsipher, Natasha Lyonne, James Cady, Scott Sharot, Paul Blott.