Arriving on DVD on June 3rd, American Crude follows a mish-mash of storylines that sort of come together at the end, with the starting point of Johnny (Ron Livingston) throwing a bachelor party for his best friend Bill (Rob Schneider), who also happens to be marrying his ex-girlfriend and ideal woman.
Storyline 1 follows Johnny, who is setting up some illegal documents for Spinks (Michael Clarke Duncan) and Carlos (Jennifer Esposito) in Storyline 2 who are going to kill a child peddler who buys kids from Storyline 3 which revolves around Johnny’s dad (Raymond Barry) who hires two idiot thugs to acquire girls for his porno industry in Storyline 4. Storyline 5 follows Johnny’s wife, who wants to be pregnant, and his ex-girlfriend, who is currently pregnant. Storylines 6 and 7 merge with Bill, who is in trouble after getting caught in the middle with a trans-gender stripper. I think that covers most of the storylines. Oh damn it, Storyline 8 follows Tammy (Sarah Foret) who is the innocent farm girl caught up in Los Angeles.
With all those going on, not very many characters get much plausible backstory, despite clearly stating their views in awkward expositionary moments. Writer/Director Craig Sheffer fails to weave the storylines together in an entertaining way and each of the many different tangents gets shortchanged in the process. At the beginning and once more at the end, we’re slapped in the face with the message that America Sucks because as a people, we’re greedy, cut throat, and vindictive. Even those who rise above their situation are still murderous assholes with little compassion for life and at best, a cynical streak a mile long. As the credits roll, no character has changed and no one has learned a thing. No one is better off, and several are worse than when they started.
Acting wise, Ron Livingston does alright playing a character reminiscent of all his other characters while Rob Schneider is mostly restrained and given very little to do. Jennifer Esposito, while being ridiculously hot, also appears to be channeling Tony Montoya and speaks with the most alarmingly horrible and stereotypical Cuban gangster accent ever. Lots of bad dialog tries to channel in some of Quentin Tarantino’s quasi-philosophical mundane arguments, in this case, a not-so-witty back and forth about the ethics of eating vegetables as compared to eating meat.
The rambling storylines and lack of development never engage the audience and the attempts at dark humor often fall flat. Livingston does deliver a few funny lines that are swallowed up and ignored by the scene, eliminating any punch they may have had. A guest starring role from John C. McGinley provides some of the only laughs of the feature, though his screen time measures a barely memorable 4 minutes. The best joke comes in the way of a cop miming a blowjob, which actually did elicit a laugh out loud moment from me. Though tragically, just now, I remembered a 9th Storyline, in which an alcoholic detective is tracking down Rob Schneider, wrongly believing him to be responsible for his brothers (a cop) death.
In conclusion, not much about this movie warrants attention. Unless mimed blowjobs and dick shadows pissing on people rope you in every time, there’s really no way I could recommend this to anyone. The DVD comes with deleted scenes.
The Upside: I’m straining here, but McGinley and the mimed blowjob were funny.
The Downside: Pretty much everything else, including Esposito’s accent, the plot, the storyline(s), and the climax.
On the Side: Writer/Director Craig Sheffer has previously acted in many shows and movies (notably One Tree Hill) and also was an executive producer on Demolition Man.