Grand Theft Parsons Film Details
Overview: There are times when it’s right and proper to simply bury the dead. This is not one of those times… Gram Parsons was one of the most influential musicians of his time; a bitter, brilliant…
Tagline: It’s better to burn out than to fade away.
Review: This was a really decent film. I, of course, was led to it by being a big fan of Gram Parsons. I did hear about the craziness that surrounded his death and burial, and was delighted to hear that they made a movie about it. As with most films that are based on a true story, a lot of people were bothered by the liberties taken in the plot and the characters. However, they do warn you at the beginning of the film. So, it’s just like those uptight parents that write letters to the FCC, if you don’t like it, change the channel (or in this case, walk out of the theater, or turn off your TiVo or DVR, or throw away the DVD). A lot of people were bothered that this film was not focused on Gram’s life. Well, if you want that, watch the “Fallen Angel” documentary. Either way, you were warned, so stop complaining and just enjoy this film already. Good, I feel better now that I’ve got that out of the way. First off, this film is superbly acted. Johnny Knoxville as Parsons’ “road mangler” Phil Kaufman, Michael Shannon as Larry Oster-burg, the stoned-out hippie owner of the psychedelic hearse, and Christina Applegate as Parsons’ psychotic ex-girlfriend after his money, all breathe so much life into their characters, even if you want to hate all 3 of them for various reasons, at various points in the film. Gabriel Macht, whom every movie buff would remember from the god-awful ‘The Spirit’, was the perfect choice to play Gram. Compare any photo of Macht to the photo of Gram Parsons on the cover of the ‘Grievous Angel’ album. It’s uncanny, I tell ya! Although some jokes are fairly obvious, there is plenty of subtlety. This film definitely warrants repeated viewings, because you definitely won’t get all of the jokes the first time around. One of the funniest scenes is when the hearse hits a road sign and the two are met by a state trooper, who then toys with the two by describing that he’s looking for “2 guys in a bright yellow hearse, with a coffin in the back”. Even though it’s quite obvious to Phil and the cop that they’re as good as screwed, the Hippie still tries his best to convince the cop otherwise, all the while still trying to remain oblivious to the fact that they just hit a road sign! Priceless! The film has a lot of heart, yet somehow keeping the comedy front-and-center while the most emotionally gut-wrenching of scenes take place. If this film can be summed up, it’s grief over a loss, yet finding laughter in the darkest of places. The exchange between Phil and Stanley, Gram’s father, meeting up at the Joshua Tree Motel is a perfect example. They both share their mutual guilt for not being there for Gram, which prompts a slightly off-the-wall speech from the Hippie that ends with a heart-warming revelation about the whole situation. But the real tearjerker moment is when Phil brings Gram to his final resting place, and as soon as Phil lights the fire, Gram’s “A Song For You” starts playing over the soundtrack. Absolutely brilliant synthesis of music and film that encapsulates all of the feelings of this film in one single blaze of glory! A few minutes of lamentation and joy later, and then with another burst of flame, we’re brought back to earth in an instant. Gram having the last laugh from beyond the desert bonfire. Which brings me to another point. Some films relating to musical figures tend not to use their music for certain reasons. Shoestring budgets, unable to get permission or licensing, among other reasons. This film seems more authentic because they went the extra mile and got some of Gram’s songs (“$1000 Wedding”, “Return of the Grievous Angel”, “A Song For You”, among others, as well as a superb cover version of “Hot Burrito #2” by Starsailor). The soundtrack is also peppered with some other great music of the time (Country Joe & The Fish, Eddie Floyd, Rory Gallagher), as well as some other music that may be newer, but actually fit the film really well (Bruce Springsteen’s tune “Blood Brothers” was made in 1996, as well as contributions by newer bands Primal Scream, Soundtrack of our Lives, and of course the aforementioned Flying Burrito Brothers cover by Starsailor). So, it may not be a film for everybody, but for everybody who “gets it”, this will be highly enjoyable. But if you don’t “get it”, that’s fine too. This may not be your cup of tea. Unfortunately, I don’t know any other films quite like this one. This is a very unique story, done in a very unique way.
Country: USA, UK
Duration: 88 min
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Also known as: Gasoline Goodbye,Голямата кражба на Парсънс,Marea rapire,A nagy hullarablás,Grand Theft Parsons,Ayúdame con el muerto,Parceiros Até o Fim,Большое похищение Парсонсов,El legado de Gram Parsons