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Pretty Bird (DVD Review)

24 Jun, 2010 By: John Latchem

Street 6/29/10
$22.99 DVD
Rated ‘R’ for language and a scene of sexuality.
Stars Billy Crudup, Paul Giamatti, Kristen Wiig, David Hornsby.

Writer-director Paul Schneider (Lars and the Real Girl) takes on the American Dream in this dark comedy about the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. The film played in competition at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, but an esoteric approach to plot and character probably kept it from finding an avenue for wide release.

Billy Crudup plays Curt, a smooth-talking would-be businessman who wants to start a company to build and sell rocket packs. For capital, he partners with Kenny (Dennis Hornsby), who leverages his mattress store. They hire embittered engineer Rick (Paul Giamatti), who was recently laid off after 20 years in aerospace. That they can’t find investors doesn’t seem to be of any concern to Curt, who exemplifies the clueless executive mostly interested in the trappings of being a CEO without actually contributing anything. While Kenny tries to hang on to his store, Rick is concerned that Curt will take the rocket pack and leave them with nothing.

As a microcosm of capitalism, Pretty Bird is really a tragic portrait of foolish dreamers upended by the harsh rejection that sometimes comes with playing in the free market. As a narrative, on the other hand, Pretty Bird is a bizarre concoction of simple ideas with an aimless flavor akin to a Coen Brothers movie, driven by compelling performances and a story that never quite veers into a direction the viewer thinks or hopes it will.

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