Seemingly stuck in a 1970s time-loop, detective Murphy Dunn (Todd Robert Anderson) is hired to find the missing son of his former high school guidance counselor, Mrs. Lockwood (Dee Wallace). Armed with his leather jacket (which he wears in the Los Angeles heat of July), shitty car and satchel, Dunn finds himself caught up in a mystery that centers less around a missing person and more around a rare, privately pressed 45 and the collectors and musicians who would stop at nothing to obtain it.
Fuzz Track City, from writer/director Steve Hicks, is an entertaining neo-noir that utilizes the conventions of the genre in a playful manner. Detective Dunn truly is a throwback, not even owning a cell phone, and the film mines quite a bit of humor from his wardrobe choices and the fact that he not only has a satchel, but that he calls it a “satchel.”
And while I would definitely consider this film leaning more towards the comedic side of things, I don’t necessarily see it as overwhelmingly so. The mystery at the center actually is a fairly interesting one, and while I did get a laugh or two out of it, I found more enjoyment watching Dunn piece things together. So, if you’re expecting madcap satire, while there are elements in there, it also functions well as a straight-up neo-noir.
Style-wise, the film apes the look and feel of a shitty ’70s cop show, if the show existed within the environment of today. Edit-styles, title graphics and other stylistic choices all fit that throwback feel, even if all the characters and settings do not. Which is interesting, because the mixture of old and new is pretty smooth to the point where, if people weren’t pointing out how absurd Dunn carries himself, I’d just think he was another Los Angeleno with a unique sense of style.
Fuzz Track City isn’t entirely flawless; as the film starts to creep towards the third act, things suddenly feel laboriously slow. It’s almost as if the film is buying an extra ten minutes before getting back into the mystery and the action. While it is by no means a deal-breaker as far as enjoying the film, it was noticeable.
In the end, if you’re a fan of neo-noir, satires or deadpan comedies with some silly elements, or if you’re a music collector or music snob, then Fuzz Track City may be for you. While it doesn’t go as raunchy or ridiculous as the underrated classic The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, it shares a similar vibe all around, and is worth checking out.
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