GET LOW — ★★★ — Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek; rated PG-13 (violence, profanity, slurs); in general release
"Get Low" really doesn't have to do that much.
It is, after all, a movie that brings together Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Bill Murray, three big-screen veterans who all possess the ability to make films better by being in them.
That's when they're by themselves, and not even appearing collectively.
And the low-key drama is more substantive than that first description might make it sound. It's a ensemble, character piece that's set in 1930s Tennessee. The time period, place and characters all hold some intrigue.
However, the movie does have a rushed, less-than-convincing ending and there are a couple of missed opportunities in terms of getting the characters to interact with each other.
Duvall stars as Felix Bush, a hermit who has become a local legend based on his many eccentricities, including a quick temper.
But now he wants to set the record straight. His method of doing that is a little unorthodox, though, to put it mildly. Felix wants to throw a "wake" for himself, before he even dies.
Local funeral director Frank Quinn (Murray) balks at the idea — at least until Felix turns out to have a lot more cash on him than anyone would ever suspect.
Still, the locals are skeptical about his motives for wanting to do this. And even the person who supposedly knows Felix best, his longtime friend Mattie Darrow (Spacek), isn't really sure if this is a good idea.
A trio of screenwriters allegedly based this fable on a true story. But they and director Aaron Schneider (2003's "Two Soldiers") can't really settle on a consistent tone.
The story is as much a mystery as it is a drama. And there's quite a bit of low-key humor, mostly provided by Duvall and Murray, who's a hoot.
Schneider rounds out his cast with other veterans, including Gerald McRaney and Bill Cobbs, who play holy men who have had run-ins with Felix in the past.
However, we wind up spending a little too much time with Lucas Black's Buddy, the nice-guy assistant to Murray's character. And we don't get nearly enough Spacek.
"Get Low" is rated PG-13 and features brief but strong violent content and imagery (gunplay and brief brawling, some domestic violence, and fiery mayhem), scattered strong profanity, some off-color references (mostly slang), and derogatory language and slurs. Running time: 100 minutes.