Let’s be clear: I am writing about this movie because Chris Elliott has top billing. Around the Film Threat office, Welcome to Redville is called THE Chris Elliott movie starring THAT Chris Elliott. Around four decades ago, Elliott was the strange guy on Late Night with David Letterman, doing bizarre humor that was way ahead of its time. A decade later, audiences punished the industry for daring to put Elliott in the lead in the bomb of the 90s, Cabin Boy. However, another decade later, Elliott was tearing it up in theaters in Scary Movie 2, with audiences eating out of the palm of his other hand.
Now, thanks to Schitt’s Creek, Elliott is a big enough name that he is a draw, even if his onscreen time isn’t enormous. So now Elliott inhabits the same special guest star space Henry Fonda held in Tentacles. Never have I felt so confident of the direction of civilization now that Elliott, the superstar, is recognized. That being said, he is up to snuff as Sheriff Brooks, playing it seriously but with his signature manner. Even when he says lines like “No son of a bitch drifter is going to make a w***e outta my daughter,” Elliott is funny without trying.
“…THE Chris Elliott movie starring THAT Chris Elliott.”
As for the rest of the movie, it is best summed up by the observation in the movie that Sweeney’s jokes aren’t funny, but that is what makes them funny. Welcome to Redville is essentially a popcorn accessory that switches genres enough to keep your focus. The story remains rooted in the outlaw couple on the run subgenre of crime film, but it then metamorphoses into an entirely different type of category. It has humor, but it is not a comedy, as the delivery and intent is coming from somewhere else.
There is also a crazy element in the form of the score by Ched Tolliver, where he puts whimsical comedy music on scenes where nothing funny is going on, which in itself is funny. Some surprises aren’t really surprises either, and this seems by design. If you don’t catch on from the start, there are big fat hints that slow-pitched regularly. It is also admirable to put the reveal at the end of the second act to have the third play around with it.
The characterizations are strictly one-dimensional types, shadows of shadows that you have seen haunting movies forever. To their credit, Manley and Kuan imbue their runaway pair with so much warmth. Both of them are very likable performers, even when their characters are f*****g up. It is this heat that helps make Welcome to Redville such an enjoyable film with serious cult potential. It strikes that High Plains Drifter tone of being not quite what it should be often enough to draw your attention.
"…an enjoyable film with serious cult potential."