Sundance Review: 'Manure' an appropriately titled piece of [expletive]
"Manure" really is one big piece of [expletive].
Yeah, yeah, that was too easy wasn't it. But, oh is it true.
The Polish Brothers, director Michael and screenwriter/actor Mark, have always been an acquired taste. From "Twin Falls Idaho" to "Northfork" the brothers have been impressive visual stylists, but their screenwriting skills have always left a little to be desired. "Manure" is no different.
A comedy that went over like a lead balloon at its public premiere at the massive Eccles Theater, "Manure" finds Billy Bob Thornton (reuniting with the Bros. after "The Astronaut Farmer") as a 1950's fertilizer salesman whose company is on the verge of collapse after the death of its founder. When the new boss, Tea Leoni, shows up, Thornton and his salespeople (including Ed Helms, one of the few shining lights in the pic), enter a war with a modern fertilizer company (lead by Kyle MacLachlan) for the business of Kansas' ignorant farmers. But, the plot doesn't really matter much. In fact, it's pretty pointless. The movie is really just an excuse for the Polish to spend two hours on overly indulgent production design and small pockets of bizarre humor (Helm's character grows breasts, seriously).
Needless to say, there isn't a major distributor who will go near this flick and once the tepid applause began as the credits rolled, any investor in the audience must have been wondering what convinced them to put money into this piece of [expletive]. The traditional Q&A was just as painful. The theater manager had to coax answer out of the crowd and Leoni had no interest in going anywhere in the mic.
And yet, that's the one advantage of coming to Sundance without a distributor is that if your movie is as bad as "Manure" is, it may never be seen again. Leoni and Thornton are no doubt keeping their fingers crossed for that outcome.