What’s the goofiest thing you would do for a large sum of money? Would you dye your hair purple? Wear a diaper to your sister’s wedding? Tattoo “I Love Film Threat” on your forehead? These are the questions we ask ourselves when it’s late, we’re drunk and there’s nothing good on television. And it’s not hard to imagine one of these conversations providing the inspiration for the surreal and often hilarious “Pennyweight”.
Writer and co-director Kyle Rankin stars as Blaine Kinney, an aspiring filmmaker who needs $200,000 to get his first production underway. He approaches Mr. Pennyweight (Ray Wise – best known as Leland Palmer from “Twin Peaks”), a wealthy eccentric who agrees to provide the financing on one condition: Blaine must wear a ludicrous pair of floral earrings for an entire year, without ever taking them off or telling anyone why he is wearing them.
Blaine agrees, but before the day is out, he’s already broken both rules — telling his girlfriend about the arrangement, and removing the earrings during the heat of passion. But Pennyweight is not a man to be toyed with — his goons pounce out of the shadows, flashbulbs popping, and soon Blaine is sitting before the very disappointed millionaire and his sock puppet sidekick, begging for a second chance. Pennyweight informs him that he will get the money once he has spent a full month continuously sporting the earrings. Silliness ensues.
“Pennyweight” is crammed with inventive gags and visual lunacy, and Ray Wise adds another memorable wacko to his distinguished resume. Rankin and co director Efram Potelle make good use of their Portland, Maine, locations and a suitably jaunty score by Rustic Overtones. This team is clearly ready for the big time; now if only they could get their hands on the financing to produce a full-length feature. Hey, I’ve got an idea…