Release Date: October 19, 2018 (Limited and VOD Platforms)
Director: Jim Hosking
MPAA Rating: R
Run Time: 108 Minutes
This is a repost of our review from Sundance 2018. An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn opens Friday.
Drawing from the dysfunctional and gloriously tacky aesthetic of a John Waters film and reveling in the anti-comedy stylings of Tim and Eric, Jim Hosking has made a name for himself over the last few years creating bizarre, irreverent and incredibly funny stories of the strange. His last feature, The Greasy Strangler, a gross-out farce about a father and son duo with a penchant for murder and greasy food products, premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, and now he’s back with a bigger cast and a broader story with An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn.
Aubrey Plaza plays Lulu Danger, the better half of Shane Danger, a foul-mouthed diner manager played by Emile Hirsch, who is forced by the higher ups to let one of his employees go. Unfortunately, Lulu is that employee, and while lounging on the couch, snacking and feeling lackadaisical in her marriage, she sees an ad for a special event happening in her town: A Magical Evening with Beverly Luff Linn for One Night Only.
As it turns out, Beverly Luff Linn, played by a mostly mute Craig Robinson, was a former boyfriend of Lulu’s who she believed to have drowned in the ocean years ago. After enlisting the help of a random stranger named Colin (Jemaine Clement), the two steal her brother’s cash box and head over to the hotel where Beverly is performing in order to rekindle their love.
It’s an odd setup to be sure, and any attempt to accurately convey the plot of this film would not do it any justice, as it’s really about the moment-to-moment wackiness of it all. Bathed in tacky decor; ugly, yet hilarious outfits; and strange tertiary characters, An Evening crafts an unpleasant feeling but great looking world where Hosking creates beauty in ugliness.
So much care was clearly taken in making everything look just a certain way, from the oversized suits of Emile Hirsch’s Shane Danger to the ornate, yet cheap, look of the hotel where much of the film takes place. The same can be said about Hosking’s last feature, The Greasy Strangler, but that one was more of an assault on the eyes.
With that film, Hosking seemed to do everything he could to cause audiences to look away from the screen rather than drink in the scenery. While An Evening contains more than one cringe-inducing moment, it’s far more accessible than Greasy, and he eliminates much of the gross-out humor in favor of more humorous character moments.
These moments aren’t without their flaws, however, with some jokes proving to be more grating than funny. Craig Robinson’s Beverly is the best example of this: a man who, aided by his platonic partner Rodney Von Donkensteiger (Matt Berry), spends almost the entirety of the film communicating using Frankenstein’s Monster-esque groans. It’s mildly funny at first, but after the first 30 minutes of it, I found myself in dread every time he came into a scene.
And that’s just how An Evening will play out for audiences. It’s a polarizing film that some like myself will love and find to be brilliantly funny and others will just find it too weird and annoying to get on board with. Whichever side you land on, An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn is a movie you won’t forget experiencing anytime soon.