Small Town Crime (2017) [REVIEW] [SXSW ’17]

Since you all love me and obviously read and memorize every review I ever write, you might recall my Small Crimes review in which I discussed how many movies shared similarities with one another at this year’s SXSW. However, if you’re an asshole and don’t remember what I said, this year’s festival featured two different neo-noirs that starred Robert Forster, one called “Small Crimes” and the other called “Small Town Crime.” I MEAN, SERIOUSLY?! What the fuck, guys? Get some different goddamn names. Sadly, this film having one more word in its title than its counterpart must have been what prevented it from being as good, as it played things a little too safe and didn’t make any bold decisions in its script, direction, or tone.

John Hawkes plays an alcoholic cop who’s been kicked off the force, but wants nothing more than his old job back, as it’s the only thing he’s ever really been halfway decent at. Lucky for him, he discovers a murdered woman, which gives him just the right case he needs to prove that he should get his badge back. The deeper this ex-cop gets into the mystery, the more bodies start stacking up, proving that this alcoholic might be in over his head and, without the support of the police department, must find less-than-legal means of finding justice for a slain woman.

“I know I give the impression that I will be intense and brooding, but don’t worry, I am neither of those things!”

If Small Crimes was a neo-noir you’d have to sit through on Showtime while waiting for Red Shoe Diaries to start, Small Town Crime is a USA original movie you’d have to sit through while waiting for Monk to start. If you already comprehend what I mean by that statement, congratulations, you know exactly what I’m talking about. In case you DON’T know what the hell I’m blabbing about, let me try to explain. Whereas many noir films will try to mirror a dark or gritty narrative by using moody lighting and cinematography, virtually every scene was well-lit and looked it like was shot for TV. Okay, well, maybe the film is like The Big Lebowski and was a more comedic interpretation of a typical detective story? Well, if that’s the case, then the film fails at delivering clever bits of dialogue or character interactions, choosing to go the PG route instead of doing or saying anything challenging to its audience.

Although the film doesn’t do anything new within the genre, the acting talent still gives it their best. Hawkes plays a great alcoholic detective that you can’t help but love, however, you’d love him more if there was a tighter script for him to work with. It’s like the character was described as “alcoholic ex-cop that you can’t help but love, played by John Hawkes, who gets the bare minimum of things to do in every scene.” Forster is, of course, a great father who is out for justice, with Clifton Collins Jr. doing a great “I guess he’s, like, a lovable pimp, or something?” Octavia Spencer also pops up for a few scenes, as she also served as one of the film’s executive producers. I can’t really say there’s anything that’s inherently bad about this film, but none of the elements really resonated with me as much as both I and probably the filmmakers wished it had. Well, the filmmakers might not give a shit what I thought, but maybe they crossed their fingers that I liked it. If you’re a fan of The Long Goodbye but wish everything about it was broader and more bland, than Small Town Crime surely is for you!

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