“Moving Alan” seems to be a hodgepodge of different films blended uneasily into one not-so-amusing comedy. Imagine “The Trouble with Harry” mixed with “Weekend at Bernie’s” and spiced with “Outrageous Fortune” and you’ll have some idea what is going on here.
Tough girl Melissa (Marley Shelton, looking sort of like a trashy older version of Reese Witherspoon) gets a frantic call from her meek, ditzy sister Emily (played by real-life sister Samantha Shelton, who is a deadringer for the late Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith). It seemed that Emily’s abusive husband Alan suddenly died from botulism after eating a taco made with spoiled fish. Emily knew the fish was bad and said nothing in order for Alan to drop dead. Since her husband’s demise she’s painted his body in hippie-dippie designs and stuffed it under the kitchen sink. As Emily is unwilling to report the death to the police, fearing she would be arrested, Melissa sensibly decides they should stuff the body into the trunk of the dead man’s Porsche and drive it out to the desert for secret burial. Needless to say, they meet a high number of colorful eccentrics along the way.
Part of the problem with “Moving Alan” is the lack of originality in the concept coupled with some fairly unfunny shadings, most notably the bruises and scars of abuse that Emily carries on her body and the tiresome bickering between the sadly one-dimensional lead characters. The film also has a tired sense of been-there/done-that which makes one itchy for checking out the aforementioned oldies-but-goodies which clearly served as the inspiration for this low-budget flick.
However, to its credit the film’s sibling stars do have a charming
screen presence (both are actually daughters of the director Christopher Shelton). And while the screenplay may not give them much in the way of funny material to show off whatever coming talents they may possess, both look good on camera and clearly have a star presence that could shine in better films. “Moving Alan” also has some fun distractions, including cameos by Heidi Swedberg (best known
as George’s doomed fiancé on “Seinfeld”) as a cranky park ranger and
Leslie Jordan (the diminutive society gossip on “Will and Grace”) as a flirty piano singer plus some beautiful 35mm cinematography by D. Alan Newman (especially when the film moves into the desert).