film reel image

film reel image

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Small Engine Repair 2021 * 1/2 Stars


I kinda loathed 2021's Small Engine Repair. And I loathed it because it doesn't know what it really wants to be. Is it a black comedy (the wiki page entry says it is but I disagree)? Is it a hangout movie where everybody talks wicked tough (the humongous overuse of F-bombs gets old real fast)? Is it Saw (there was a clip toward the end that made me feel icky)? I don't know. It could be any one of those things. I'll just go with misguided and sad and leave it at that. 

When you watch Small Engine Repair, you feel as if you've stepped into a less artsy version of Manchester by the Sea that might've found its way onto Showtime. At the same time, you also get a Last Flag Flying vibe except that everyone is in pretty much the same location. That's the first hour and then things turn dark. Small Engine Repair has a twist in which a possible murder might be involved. Bromantic epiphany and town drunkenness turn into Robert Boyd territory (some of you may not get the reference).

Director John Pollono (also the lead and the writer) initially fashions a character study of three buddies who forever swill liquor, bicker, smoke, give each other ribs, and harbor thick East Coast accents (rehab anyone?). Then he makes well, an entirely different flick altogether (yes I'm saying it like it's a bad thing). 

So OK, you wanna see star Jon Bernthal act like Jon Bernthal for the umpteenth time? I sorta do but not really. Do you wanna see actor Shea Whigham play himself? Well I guess cause that's the only way you can see Shea Whigham. Finally, do you want to watch Pollono get his ego trip on and try to be all innovative at the same time? I didn't and will never again but it's up to you. 

Small Engine Repair gets its title because most of it takes place in a repair shop (I think it was lawn mowers). Other than that, what a crappy title that feels generic and well, VOD (that would be video on demand). The out of place and out of tone flashbacks don't help this vehicle either (har har). Boy what a heap Small Engine Repair is. 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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