After seeing a vision of the Gold Granny (Ruby Walker), Dakota Red (Steve Wilcox) gets his two friends Wylie (Keith Chapman) and Buffalo Bill Bob (Bob McClung) together to search for Big Bend, a gold mining jackpot that Dakota is convinced can be found amid the urban environment of Denver, Colorado. With sparse, though specific, training, the three set out on their quest, where they run afoul of trickling rapids, a violent kayaker, quicksand, equipment failure and the infamous Gold Guru (Hank Hebert).
Steve Wilcox’s Gold Men operates on a comedy logic that if you take something absurd, but present it as epic, then it becomes that much funnier. Thus watching our heroes’ equipment fall down to the river bank is played up as a catastrophic event, even as it has clearly just tipped over. It’s just silly and nonsensical, played with the seriousness of a reality TV drama.
But that’s the concept and technique, whether or not it actually equates to anything that will make you laugh is debatable. It commits to its silliness, and it has no real point other than to present its idea of comedy, and hope you share it. If you do, great. If not, there’s little else here… unless you want to call this a satire on reality TV, and want to run with the significance of this or that along those lines. Even in that sense, though, it doesn’t quite come together as well as it could have, had it focused more slavishly to the form of that style (such as making its scenes and mini-sections work in larger chunks, for example).
As far as the look of things, everything about the visual presentation screams low budget. However, like the gibberish that takes place, the entire endeavor is given an epic quality by the score and the narration by Don Finley. Then again, when that narration is serving to just tell you exactly what it is going on, when you’re currently watching and know what’s going on, you just want it to shut up.
Edit-wise, the film is broken up into sections, some merely a minute long, with title cards. Sometimes these function like commercial break points. Other times they just seem to cover up uneven edits. Overall, though, there’s a feeling that this was a bunch of smaller pieces for some purpose or another, perhaps a web series, that got jammed together into one “film.” Sometimes it works, other times it’s distracting.
In the end, though, if Gold Men makes you laugh, then it has succeeded somewhat. There were elements of the film that I did enjoy, such as the kayaker out for blood, but I do think, even at 40-something minutes long, that it pushes its luck, with the overall concept and joke getting old. Above all, though, it feels like silly for silly’s sake, and could be even more along the lines of The Three Stooges if it embraced more slapstick, but overall… just really silly.
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