River of Grass, set amidst the endless weeds of the Florida Everglades, features to go-nowhere losers, a bored mother named Cozy (Lisa Bowman) and a homeless loser named Lee (filmmaker Larry Fessenden). They happen upon one another and decide, almost by accident, to head off on a new life of adventure (and crime, thanks to a stolen gun and an accidental murder) on the open road. Alas, they don't get far: They don't even have a quarter for the toll road. (And they didn't even kill the guy, either.)
In 71 minutes, the joke is all over, a zippy round trip to oddsville and back. After the creepy intro (pubic hair is shown), the most frightening aspect of the film is Fessenden's hairdo. The remainder of the pic, involving bungled robberies and bumbling cops, is a movie cliche. In fact, it's meant to be -- or at least it's meant to be a gag on cliches.
Unfortunately, while the lovers-on-the-lam genre has long turned to toast, there isn't really a well-established mopey-crazy-people-with-gun genre to spoof. The deadpan humor comes across as serious -- or at least an attempt to mock their fellow independent filmmakers more than anything else.
Jokey in the nudge-nudge-wink-wink sense, the exceptionally brief River of Grass comes off as an experiment or a film school project: Plenty of fun but not really that memorable. Or repeatable.
You'll watch it once, then promptly turn around and take it back to the video store (or ship it off to Netflix). Just like our poor heroes.
Run time: 76 mins
In Theaters: Friday 13th October 1995
Distributed by: Wellspring Media Inc.
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
IMDB: 6.1 / 10
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Producer: Jesse Hartman
Screenwriter: Kelly Reichardt