Damn you, Vince Gilligan. Everything I ever watch about drug dealers and producers will now be measured up against Breaking Bad, and will inevitably be found wanting*. I’ll do my best to leave that aside for today though.
Drugs are bad, mmkay kids?
Bill Kincaid is a Classical Philosophy professor at Brown University. Brady Kincaid is a small-scale pot grower in rural Oklahoma. Bill and Brady are identical twins who haven’t seen each other in twelve years. Needing Bill’s help with a plan, Brady tricks his brother back to Oklahoma where the two begin to hesitatingly reconnect over a very eventful weekend.
Leaves of Grass is a dark comedy/drama about family and responsibility and some damn fine marijuana, written and directed by Tim Blake Nelson, reuniting with his Incredible Hulk co-star Edward Norton, who plays both Bill and Brady. It seems a bit redundant singling out Edward Norton for praise at this point in his career but for this flick it is simply required. The effects work is passable, but even without it Norton is completely believable as both the uptight Bill and the freewheeling Brady.
The supporting cast are all top notch too, from Susan Sarandon as the boys’ mother to Richard Dreyfuss as Pug Rothbaum, the pot king of Oklahoma. Some of the characters seem a little hard done by though, in particular Keri Russell as Bill’s somewhat perfunctory love interest, who seems to be present merely to bring in all the Walt Whitman references. Nelson himself steals most of the scenes as Brady’s best friend and accomplice Bolger.
The film has a few tonal shifts that might be jarring if you’re more invested in the comedy than the characters, and there is a Jewish dentist subplot that feels a bit shoehorned in at times, but overall, Leaves of Grass is an entertaining and enjoyably ramshackle affair. The soundtrack is right up my alley too, featuring some great songs by Townes Van Zandt, The Band and the legendary Steve Earle, who also puts in a guest appearance as a rival dealer.
*Before you start talking about Breaking Bad in the comments, I’ve only seen to the end of season 4. No spoilers please, thank you kindly.
Good review Ryan. It’s really weird and uneven with it’s tone, but at the center is a great performance from Norton that not only channels his goofy side, but his anti-hero side as well. Fairly underrated flick in my book, mainly because nobody actually went out to go and see it.