Saturday, July 4, 2020

Home Video debut for Josh Pierson's noirish and nutty WHERE SLEEPING DOGS LIE

Honor among thieves certainly has a long and storied history in literature and film, even if, in most cases, you could as easily call it dishonor among thieves. It's one thing when the thieves in question -- two brothers and their friend since childhood -- are relatively smart but quite another when they're dumb-as-they-come. Which is the case with the poorly-titled WHERE SLEEPING DOGS LIE. There are no sleeping dogs lying around anywhere in this movie, even metaphorically speaking, with almost every character about as hyped-up, noisy and attention-deficit-disordered as you could possibly want.

The first full-length feature (after half a dozen shorts) from writer/director Josh Pierson (shown at left), the movie's noticeably lax and lank storytelling and style make it something of an effort to sit through. The plot: Three idiotic, would-be criminals mis-execute a robbery with even worse-then-imaginable results.

Initially, the movie seems a bit promising because it is told piecemeal via scenes that go back and forth in time, but eventually the scenes begin to feel like filler -- in particular those set in a bar, below, in which one brother (Jesse Janzen, above, left) tells the other (Dustin Miller, right) about his big plan.

While some of this seems played for dark laughs, the humor quickly curdles due to the sheer ugliness and stupidity of what's going on. Too dumb to make a decent noir and peopled with characters that pretty much defy credibility, the film simply moves ever forward on its crazy death march.

The third wheel here is played by Tommy Koponen (above), who might garner more sympathy if the script didn't have him constantly whining and at odds with just about everything and everyone. Dialog moves from the expected and mediocre to downright bad, so the performers are hardly given much chance, except to over-emote like crazy. (Some of the speechifying sounds suspiciously like improvisation, in which one of the actors has just discovered the word fuck.) Female roles, as is often the case in these buddy-boy movies, are mere fodder for cliché.

The most impressive role, along with the performance of it, is taken by David J. Espinosa (above, left), as the initial victim of the robbery -- perhaps because his mouth is taped shut for much of the movie so he can't spout too much dialog. (I hope this actor got double pay for having had all that duct tape placed around and then removed from his head and mouth, over and over again!) And what the hell -- even the special-effects fire here looks fake.

From 1091 and running a too-lengthy 96 minutes, Where Sleeping Dogs Lie will hit home video this Tuesday, July 7 -- for purchase (and maybe?) rental. Your move...

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