The problem with small town movies is that story and characters can seem as inconsequential as the place itself. Nyswaner's episodic script counters this by playing up the idiosyncrasies of his horizontally mobile mining family, presided over by domineering patriarch Ward. Oppressed by Ward's narrow pursuit of the American Dream, his wife (Bedelia) turns to obsessive consumerism and clandestine nookie with Ward's best pal, while his eldest son (Reeves) indulges in Heath Robinson inventions and unrequited love for the world-weary ex-hippy owner of a run-down ice-cream joint (Madigan). Determined to avoid a life of quiet desperation, Reeves hatches a bizarre plot to kidnap his own father and split the ransom (a jealously-guarded family nest-egg) with his mother. The quirky charm soon wears thin as the shrewd observations of small town frustration give way to a more strained oddball humour. By the time Reeves dons a Freddy Krueger mask to abduct his father, one feels the desperation has begun to affect the film itself.
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