It’s hard to imagine a film sporting such reliable talents as Peter Dinklage, Steve Buscemi and Rosie Perez — to name just a few — could be completely unappealing, but “Pete Smalls Is Dead” somehow manages. The off-kilter comedy of prior Alexandre Rockwell features like “In the Soup” here curdles into loutish humor and obnoxious characters posing as wacky screwballs. Cast names will ensure some DVD exposure, but otherwise, this lamentably unfunny road pic faces an uphill struggle.
A decade ago K.C. (Dinklage) and friends set out to conquer Hollywood, but only Pete (Tim Roth) succeeded. News of the famous director’s demise lures K.C. back to L.A., with reprobate pal Jack (Mark Boone Junior) promising to pay his loan-shark debts as reward for attending the funeral. But Jack’s real mission is to seize back rights to a screenplay Pete stole from them for an incomplete final film. This quest crosses their path with assorted off-key caricatures, eventually leading south where Mexicans join gays, Armenians and the French as the butts of dumb jokes. Cast members are undone by hapless material; packaging sometimes seems equally thrown-together, though low-grade projection at Montreal worsened matters.