Spunky pic shares motto with New Hampshire

Live Free Or Die

on March 30, 2007 by Tim Cogshell
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John "Rugged" Rudgate (Aaron Stanford, X-Men: The Last Stand ) has delusions of grandeur, fancying himself a lower middleclass suburban gangster when in fact he is a working-class unemployed loser. He talks big about his connections and his many "scores" and constantly alludes to having been behind the recent death of a local man, none of which is remotely true. Meanwhile, he drives a brakeless van and dodges his landlord while pulling petty scams as low as taking the coins from Muscular Dystrophy donation displays.

Nevertheless, compared to his old high school friend Jeff Lagrand (Paul Schneider), Rugged is a freaking genius. Jeff isn't definitively retarded, but he literally spent some time on the short bus and is susceptible to Rugged's narrative flourishes and comparatively sharp insights.

Rugged immediately tries to horn in on the family business Jeff and his sister (Zooey Deschanel, just hanging out) recently inherited but is afraid the deal will go south when he's humiliated in front of Jeff by a local bully. Deciding that for once he must be the "man of action" he's always wanted to be, Rugged decides take revenge on the bully, and that's when everything spins out of control in a series of mishaps and misunderstandings that all work out quite badly.

There are several elements, storylines and events necessary for co-writer/directors Gregg Kavet and Andy Robin's crime comedy to weave itself into a coherent narrative, which it does, but mostly Live Free or Die (which also happens to be the prefix to the next installment of the Die Hard films, Live Free or Die Hard ) is clever and funny. Stanford and Schneider are pitch perfect, and the filmmakers manage find that lovely spot between camp comedy and dark comedy, right down to the final scene, which is poignant and pithy, but still kinda funny. Distributor: ThinkFilm
Cast: Aaron Stanford, Paul Schneider, Judah Friedlander, Zooey Deschanel and Michael Rapaport
Directors/Screenwriters: Gregg Kavet and Andy Robin
Producers: Dan Carey, Doug Bernheim and John Limotte
Genre: Comedy
Rating: R for pervasive language including sex references
Running time: 89 min.
Release date: March 30, 2007 ltd

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