• by Wes Singleton

The Death of Dick Long - B

Rated R, 100 minutes

The fun, appealing new dark comedy "The Death of Dick Long" is a deep-fried, low-budget cross between Coen's Brothers and "In the Heat of the Night." Set in small town Alabama, the murder mystery is from Daniel Scheinert, one of the co-directors and writers of the equally, dark dramedy "Swiss Army Man." While pulling few surprises, the uneven "Dick Long" does provide some often hilarious insight into Deep South crime investigations.

In small-town Alabama, Zeke (Michael Abbott, Jr.) and Earl (Andre Hyland) scramble to cover up the unlikely and illegal events that led to their friend's death while trying to dodge their families and the cops investigating the crime.

Dark and delightful, Scheinert's enjoyable "The Death of Dick Long" has been making the festival circuit this year, gaining acclaim as a cross between "Andy Griffith" and "Fargo." The spirited, independent comedy will gain some admirers for the charming Abbott and Hyland, hilarious as the nervous, dim-witted pair trying to cover up some strange events, particularly Hyland's Earl, who easily steals the film (perfectly capturing the Deep South each time he says, "you know what I'm sayin'?). As long as they pick up their kids from school and have some chicken fingers at the local bar - with honey mustard, not dijon mustard - in one of the film's funniest moments, then all is well with them.

Equally as fun are the two small town cops trailing them, played by familiar character actress Sarah Baker ("The Kominsky Method") and Janelle Cochrane, who take their time investigating the crime, one silly clue after another (is Ted short for Theodore and Dick short for Richard?). "Dick Long" takes its time, probably a bit too leisurely, to resolve the crime, all of which seems like deep-fried fodder and padding to make the movie feel longer than it is.

The movie plods along well until its disappointing, anti-climactic ending, it seems Scheinert (who cameos as Dick Long), didn't really know how to end the thing, except the hapless two aren't as hapless as they seem with their motives, which reminds of another classic, "The Ode to Billy Joe." "The Death of Dick Long" is mostly an enjoyable experience, much like Sunday dinner with fried chicken and all the fixins, iced tea and chocolate pie for dessert. Y'all take care and come back, now.

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