Friday, January 28, 2005

Grand Theft Parsons

I recently rented the DVD Grand Theft Parsons, a movie based very loosely on the true story of the theft of Gram Parsons' body by his road manager Philip Kaufman, who said he wanted to fulfill the legendary country-rock pioneer's wish by cremating him in the desert. Obviously, a story like this cries out for black comedy treatment, and that's what this movie aims for. Kaufman is played by Johnny Knoxville, famous for his antics on MTV's Jackass. Christina Applegate plays a presumably fictional character: a greedy ex-girlfriend of Parsons who tries to stop Kaufman.

Fans of Parsons will probably squirm at the movie's historical inaccuracies. Two examples: Robert Forster apparently portrays Gram's biological father, who actually died when Gram was a child. Also, Kaufman's partner in crime was actually a friend of his, but in this movie he hires a stoned-out hippie to unwittingly aid and abet his caper. Grand Theft Parsons is as inaccurate as an Oliver Stone movie, without the art.

But if you are not a Gram-worshipper, and if you are a fan of Knoxville and/or offbeat low-budget comedies, you might enjoy it. It's no great cinematic achievement, but it's good for a few laughs. A few of Gram's songs did make it onto the soundtrack, as did a remake of his Flying Burrito Brothers song "Hot Burrito #2", done by the Britpop band Starsailor.

By the way, the real Philip Kaufman briefly appears in the very last scene.

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