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Sword of Trust

One year at the Critics’ Choice awards, I had two great run-ins. As I was leaving, Gary Oldman was walking by me towards the parking lot. He had won that night for playing Winston Churchill, and I pulled the cigar out of my pocket and said, “I’m going to smoke this in honor of your win tonight.” 

He pointed at me and winked, as he continued walking.

Before the awards show started, I was at a frozen yogurt machine and as I looked at the person right next to me getting yogurt — it was Marc Maron. I love his style of comedy and I said, “I really dig your podcasts.”

As he was putting sprinkles on his yogurt he looked up and said, “Hey, thanks, pal.”

It’s great to see Maron in a leading role. He plays Mel, a former New Yorker that’s now running a pawn shop in Birmingham, Alabama. As the movie goes on, we learn more about his sometimes troubled past. When he’s looking at items people are bringing in, or wanting to buy, it’s comedic gold. It makes me wish he was on one of those pawn shop reality shows. 

He employs a young guy named Nathaniel (Jon Bass, the nerd from Baywatch), who’s more interested in listening to his earbuds than helping customers. 

It was such a thrill to find that two actresses that I love to see in comedies — Jillian Bell (22 Jump Street, Rough Night) and Michaela Watkins (Afternoon Delight, Brigsby Bear, and In a World…all movies nobody has seen, and everyone should). They play a couple that are left a Civil War era sword from a departed grandfather. They go in to sell it, a Google search is done, and it’s worth a lot of money. When some scary red-necks come sniffing around for it, danger (and hijinx) ensues. A scene with two of them holding a screwdriver to Maron’s neck — is one of the smartest, and funniest scenes, I’ve seen in a movie this year.

Just like Quentin Tarantino, this is writer/director Lynn Shelton’s 9th film (her movie Your Sister’s Sister is brilliant). Both of their films open this weekend, and the total this movie makes at the box office, will probably be less than Tarantino’s film spent on craft services alone.

Sword of Trust reminds me of the low-key indie/mumblecore films of the ‘90s, and this is the perfect cast for the improvisational moments in the script.

The first half of this film is great, but the second half doesn’t work. It meanders a bit, and the scenarios don’t seem the least bit believable. 

Maron perfectly pulls off pathos and humor, and it’s a shame a stronger script wasn’t provided for him. 

2 ½ stars out of 5

 

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