Randy and the Mob

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Virginia Film Festival

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Filmmaker-actor Ray McKinnon voices his Southern droll in this amusing, feel-good comedy, which played to an enthusiastic audience here at the 20th annual Virginia Film Festival. The winner of the audience award at this year's Nashville Film Festival, this smart, backwoods entertainment is in a regional rollout.

The film will face a marketing challenge in some regions, overcoming prejudices about slapstick comedies, especially those set in the rural South and centering on a good-ol'-boy. "Randy and the Mob's" underlying message of sexual toleration is enlightened and inspired. Served up funny and over-easy, it should do well on cable and nab strong word-of-mouth as a rental.

McKinnon wears four hats as he writes, directs, plays the lead and the lead's brother. That's a smart idea economically and aesthetically. The Southern-raised McKinnon has an ear and eye for life down the road a piece from Mayberry. Never preachy, "Mob" rambles along with sharp observations and an inspirational theme; fortunately, the smart, thematic stuff plays a proper second fiddle to the entertaining slapstick and droll dialogue.

McKinnon stars as Randy, a down-home entrepreneur who has got big ideas and even bigger obligations. His mini-bumpkin empire includes a gas station, a restaurant and some air-conditioned storage bins. Randy has leveraged himself into borrowing from the wrong people, namely the mob. His personal bearings are out of kilter in the enlightened world of the "New South": A football guy, Randy doesn't understand his son's preference for soccer; even more perplexing, he's sandbagged by his baton-twirling wife's bout of the doldrums, not to mention carpal tunnel syndrome.

Most amusingly, Randy's tricky situation is delicately handled by the mob: A mysterious outsider, a savant-like mob rep who is one part Rain Man and one part Ernest T. Bass from "Andy Griffith," rambles into town to make Randy an offer he can't refuse. In this catalytic role as the supportive mob man, Walton Goggins is a hoot. To boot, the cast includes one of the great Southern good-old boy icons, Burt Reynolds. In a deadpan cameo as Randy's business rival, Reynolds' friendly snickers are aptly scary.

Under McKinnon's zesty, deliberate direction, production credits simmer perfectly: John Swihart's spicy score, production designer Chris Jones' down-home digs and April Napier's small-town styles percolate with Southern-style comic spicing.

RANDY AND THE MOB
Capricorn Pictures
A Ginny Mule production in association with Timbergrove Entertainment
Credits:
Screenwriter-director: Ray McKinnon
Producers: Walton Goggins, David Koplan, Lisa Blount
Executive producers: Benjy Griffith, Phil Walden
Director of photography: Jonathan Sela
Production designer: Chris Jones
Music: John Swihart
Co-producers: Scott Lumpkin, Jamey Pryde
Costume designer: April Napier
Editor: Jim Makiej
Cast:
Randy Pearson/Cecil Pearson: Ray McKinnon
Charlotte Pearson: Lisa Blount
Franco: Paul Ben-Victor
Tino: Walton Goggins
Bill: Tim DeKay
Griff: Brent Briscoe
Wardlowe: Bill Nunn
Running time -- 99 minutes
MPAA rating: PG
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