×

Pretty Bird

The darker side of the American spirit of invention weighs on actor-turned-helmer Paul Schneider's "Pretty Bird," an overly calculated cautionary tale. A witless entrepreneur played by Billy Crudup in unhinged comic mode runs roughshod through people's lives -- and the movie -- with the patently dumb idea of marketing a rocket belt.

The darker side of the American spirit of invention weighs on actor-turned-helmer Paul Schneider’s “Pretty Bird,” an overly calculated cautionary tale. A witless entrepreneur played by Billy Crudup in unhinged comic mode runs roughshod through people’s lives — and the movie — with the patently dumb idea of marketing a rocket belt. That the idea fails miserably isn’t for a moment surprising, and little in Schneider’s script adds texture for interest or intrigue. With a gruff and one-note Paul Giamatti as co-star, pic won’t fly in the theatrical market, and will prove a dicey sell abroad and in vid.

Fast-talking Curt (Crudup) returns to an unnamed small town from his past, and sucks gullible mattress storeowner and buddy Kenny (David Hornsby) into his scheme of making and marketing a rocket belt that allows for limited airborne transit. Item is an obvious commercial nonstarter, yet not even cynical, unemployed rocket scientist Rick (Giamatti), who signs on with Curt, questions the project until it’s clear that he’s in business with a madman. Strong plus here is a soundtrack plucked from Dutch minimalist composer Wim Mertens’ catalog.

Pretty Bird

  • Production: A Two Lane Pictures presentation of a Touchy Feely Films, Sound Pictures production. (International sales: Inferno Distribution, Los Angeles.) Produced by Dan Carey, Elizabeth Giamatti, John Limotte. Executive producers, Doug Bernheim, Paul Giamatti, D.J. Martin, James Shifren. Co-producer, Mark Moran. Directed, written by Paul Schneider.
  • Crew: Camera (Deluxe color, DV), Igor Martinovic; editor, Annette Davey; music, Wim Mertens; music supervisor, Doug Bernheim; production designer, Alex DiGerlando; costume designer, Paola Ruby Weintraub. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 22, 2008. Running time: 97 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Billy Crudup, Paul Giamatti, David Hornsby, Kristen Wiig, Elizabeth Marvel, Denis O'Hare, Garret Dillahunt.
  • Music By: