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Grand Theft Parsons Review

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1973, and legendary country singer Gram Parsons is dead. Best friend and road manager Phil Kaufman (Knoxville) endeavours to fulfil Parsons' wish to be cremated in Joshua Tree National Park and steals the body in a borrowed hearse, with Parsons' father (Forster) and mistress (Applegate) in hot pursuit.

★★★★★

The story of a man who steals the body of a country singer and takes it on a road trip sounds so perfect for Johnny Knoxville that it could have been dreamt up just for his first leading role. But the story's true - a fact that remains this film's strongest point throughout.

We're slowly but surely taken through each stage of Kaufman's mission. He finds a hearse (owned by a hippie who insists on coming along, blissfully ignorant of Kaufman's plans), locates Gram Parsons' body at the airport, cunningly swipes it and drives into the desert, dodging cops and Parsons Sr. as he goes. The story is reliably and simply told, drawing laughs from the inevitably humorous situations without maximising the comic opportunities.

Much like the film itself, Shannon's stoner Larry is amusing, but never in a particularly arresting or original way. Knoxville, too, is believable, but something of a shadow of his Jackass self - certainly more muted than you'd expect of the lead in a potentially madcap comedy. Perhaps director Caffrey was anxious not to detract from the film's emotional messages about loyalty and respect - but these are shouted too loud and too late.

Knoxville gives a surprisingly restrained performance in this generally likeable, funny little indie comedy that nevertheless fails to capitalise on the emotional and comic strengths of its true story.