Sleuthhound Screwball Image

Sleuthhound Screwball

By Bobby LePire | June 20, 2024

While the word “screwball” is in the title Sleuthhound Screwball, and it is a comedy, it is not a madcap romp a la Clue, Murder By Death, or Mystery Team. Rather, writer-director Holden Pollak’s film is more in the vein of The Nice Guys: an investigative story with stakes is made amusing by its colorful, slightly ridiculous, but not cartoony cast of people. Well, there’s one big exception to that here, but more on that later. The point is don’t make the same mistake I did and expect this to be a farce or utter send-up of private eye films.

“…James sees adult film star/sex worker Luna Laguna murder a high-priced attorney.”

James (Christian Vierling) is a small-time private investigator. His cases usually involve possible affairs, so he’s typically out until 2 or 3 in the morning. This schedule drives his wife, Natalie (Sydney Smith), up the wall, as she knows he has more to offer than just being a guy who snoops around dark corners with a camera. One night, while looking into a case, James sees adult film star/sex worker Luna Laguna (Lexi Luna) murder a high-priced attorney. With the help of his best friend, Matthew (Oliver Cooper), James looks into Luna, which leads him to a local surfer gang called Lunada Bay Boys. The problem is that their enigmatic leader seems to fancy his natators as people to do anything and everything he says and wants accomplished. Will James expose this cult before he winds up like the lawyer? Will Matthew ever shut up?

Let’s answer that last question first. There’s a lot to like in Sleuthhound Screwball, but Matthew is not one of them; quite the opposite, in fact. He’s such an annoying slob with no charm, discernible skills, talent, or anything other than a shrill voice and the inability to be quiet. Imagine Dan Fogler’s Fanboys character, minus the heart and redemptive arc; so you know, the things that make that character a well-rounded person and not just an oxygen sucker. Pollak either knew someone like this and hates that person, or has never had a very irritating best friend. If it is the latter, then the filmmaker does not get that moments of humanity need to seep through to allow audiences to understand what the other leads see in this person. Such is not the case here. It certainly doesn’t help that Cooper’s only mode is hyper and loud. His one-note performance does nothing whatsoever to elevate the tedious and awful writing of the character. At one point, Matthew gets his mouth gagged, and why it couldn’t have happened sooner and lasted longer is a mystery known only to the powers that be.

Sleuthhound Screwball (2024)

Directed and Written: Holden Pollak

Starring: Christian Vierling, Oliver Cooper, Sydney Smith, Lexi Luna, Eric Roberts, Pay Nye, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Sleuthhound Screwball Image

"…full of surprises."

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