SXSW FILM 2015
By Don Simpson | March 18, 2015
Director: Bob Byington
Writer: Bob Byington
Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Tunde Adebimpe, Eleanore Pienta, Olympia Dukakis, Jimmy Gonzales, Stephen Root, Alex Karpovsky, Jonathan Togo, Alex Ross Perry, Anna Margaret Hollyman, John Gatins, Chris Doubek
Larry (Jason Schwartzman) is one of those lovable losers, thanks in no small part to the cinematic panache of his loyal sidekick and confidant, a French bulldog named Arrow (perhaps a reference to Harry Nilsson’s The Point?). A hopelessly irresponsible and perpetually intoxicated man-child, Larry seems destined to be fired by any employer who dares to hire him. Larry’s one and only hope of getting anywhere in this financially-focused world is the high probability that he might eventually inherit his grandmother’s (Olympia Dukakis) fortune, because, well, he is her only living relative. With the carrot of wealth dangling in front of his face, it is certainly not surprising that Larry regularly visits his grandmother in the nursing home; however, these visits offer the added bonus of replenishing Larry’s supply of prescriptions courtesy of a friendly nursing home attendant, Major Norwood (Tunde Adebimpe).
Upon landing a job at Quick Lube, everything seems to change for Larry. Enamored by his boss, Lupe (Eleanore Pienta), Larry begins to enjoy going to work, and even presumably remains sober while on the clock. Larry’s grandmother, however, wants to see more motivation and drive from her only grandson; she would also prefer that he stop asking her for handouts. In her eyes, Larry is just an aimless slacker who will never succeed in life and that is not a lifestyle that she wants to condone.
An existential shaggy dog comedy showcasing Bob Byington’s incomparably dry, sardonic wit, 7 Chinese Brothers loosely philosophizes about the roles that happiness and success play in our modern world. 7 Chinese Brothers serves as a love letter to the slacker culture of Austin in the early 1990s, revealing a present day Austin in which characters such as Larry find themselves struggling to stay afloat in the uncompromising undercurrents of Capitalism. The rough around the edges 7 Chinese Brothers is carried by the tipsy, nonsensical ramblings of Jason Schwartzman; the dialogue is oh-so-perfectly crafted for Schwartzman’s uniquely droll and monotone delivery. That said, it is Arrow who truly steals the show.