By Don Simpson | April 28, 2012
Director: Charles Matthau
Writer: Charles Matthau, Elmore Leonard (novel)
Starring: Crispin Glover, Billy Burke, Michael Jai White, Andy Dick, Sabina Gadecki, Breanne Racano, Christian Slater, Roger Bart, Bill Duke, Mark Saul, Gloria Hendry, Anna Gurji, Leonard Robinson
Freaky Deaky never gets much freakier than the sibling relationship of eccentric millionaires, Woody (Crispin Glover) and Mark Ricks (Andy Dick). It is the promise of those two actors (as well as Christian Slater) sharing the screen that lured me into the theater to see this film; it is also the strange performances by Glover and Dick that save Freaky Deaky from total ruin.
Writer-director Charles Matthau inexplicably transports the source Elmore Leonard novel (Freaky Deaky — which is set in 1988) to the decade of polyester and fur, bell-bottoms and wide collars, afros and mullets, funk and disco, dynamite and Dyno-MITE!, and — most importantly — a plethora of drugs and scantily clad women. Yes, that dreamy decade is…the 1970s.
After getting kicked out of his apartment by his girlfriend, Chris Mankowski (Billy Burke) is suspended from the Detroit police force. The two events are related because Chris is now living at his father’s house, which is outside of the city limits and disqualifies him from being a detective for the Detroit police. On the bright side, Chris is borrowing his father’s gorgeous Cadillac, which seemingly helps him lure the young and beautiful Greta (Sabina Gadecki) back to his borrowed abode.
Greta is a supposed rape victim who purportedly fell prey to Woody’s overzealous woody. Woody is an over-medicated (prescription and recreational) millionaire who would be helpless without his ex-con bodyguard Donnell (Michael Jai White). How Woody — a mere zombie of a man — was ever able to achieve an erection, let alone rape someone, is definitely something worth questioning. None of that really matters though, because it is all just a narrative ruse to get Chris unknowingly closer to catching a sexy counter-culturalist Robin (Breanne Racano) and her drug-addled partner in crime, Skip (Christian Slater). Thanks to his relentless libido, Mark also becomes involved in the shenanigans.
In the end, all of the double, triple and quadruple crosses do not matter. In fact, nothing matters except for the film’s visual style — or failed attempt at one. The sheer density of the farcical atmosphere, in which everything in Freaky Deaky is set up to be some type of a dim-witted gag, clouds the narrative in a drug-crippling fog. The plot takes occasional breaks from the jokes whenever Sabina Gadecki and Breanne Racano appear onscreen; then, all the camera can manage is to stare slack-jawed at their frames. (Obviously, in 1970s Detroit women only wore bikinis, Daisy Dukes or lingerie.) These ladies are certainly worthy of ogling, but I thought cinema had progressed beyond women being mere sex objects.