Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Hank Azaria, Kelly Lynch
What kind of movie is Homegrown? Is it an
No, even though a number of guns get fired, and people get beaten. Is
a comedy? No, even though there are some amusing bits, and the video
giving the impression it is. Is it a straight drama? No, dramatic
never are focused on for long. What kind of a movie is it, then? I
know what genre it could fit it. Maybe that's why Sony only gave this
a very small theatrical release in the northwestern United States
dumping it on video. Though certainly the fact that the movie is
on the growing and harvesting of marijuana would make it a tough sell,
because the MPAA forbids the showing or mentioning of narcotics in
After all, the drug comedy Half-Baked, released the
year, came out with advertisements that made no sense, because of this
rule - and look how that did at the box office.
This low-budget movie was clearly a labor of love for
those who participated.
In addition to the top-lined cast, there are microscopic cameos by John
Lithgow, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Mellencap, Ted Danson, and Judge
It sometimes feels like the cinematic equivalent of when Judy and
exclaimed, "Let's put on a show!" Now you're probably feeling that Homegrown
is a bad movie. In fact, it's pretty good. You may call it
predictable, and unfocused, but it certainly isn't dull. You really get
interested in these characters.
Homegrown centers around three
characters: Jack (Thornton),
Carter (Azaria), and Harlan (Ryan Phillippe), living in a small
California town. Several miles out of town in the forest, they work on
the marijuana plantation that's owned by their boss Malcolm (Lithgow).
At the beginning of the movie, Malcolm flies in a helicopter from San
to inspect the crop, which is almost ready to be harvested. But as soon
as the helicopter lands in front of the three workers, the helicopter
shoots Malcolm dead, and flies away.
Terrified by what they've just seen, the three quickly
run back to the
plantation and cut down enough plants to compensate them for their
Subsequently, they flee and hide out at the house of Lucy (Lynch), who
is an old friend of Carter, and don't tell her what happened. Shortly
they sell their goods to a local dealer, and are surprised how easy it
was. Sneaking back to the plantation, they are surprised again by the
that the plantation hasn't been taken over or touched. There's millions
of dollars there, just ripe for the picking. So the three agree to
create a plan to harvest, sell, and keep the profits of the crop. They
agree not to tell anyone of Malcolm's death, and Jack will keep the
that Malcolm is alive by visiting his S.F. office and impersonate him
the telephone. Needless to say, things don't quite turn up that cut and
Up to now, the tone has been generally lightly comic.
Then, with each
subsequent scene, the tone changes. Sometimes it's comic, other times
serious, such as when a romance blossoms between young punk Harlan and
the older Lucy. There are also several harsh sequences, including a
incident at Malcolm's grave, and another when Jack, impersonating
meets some mobsters who are waiting for the crop that they were
in a telephone deal with Malcolm. In other hands, this might have
into a mishmash of genres. However, director Gyllerhaal makes it work
by making each subsequent incident grow naturally from what has
happened. Sometimes amusing things do happen during serious times. And
serious problems can sometimes befall people who have been relaxed and
have just got into the rhythm of things. Many different things happen
these people, but they all have a reasonable chance of happening.
If there's one disappointment in the movie, it would
have to belong
to an interesting theme that occasionally surfaces in the movie: that
towns like the one here depend directly or indirectly on the
and transport of the drug. For example, a deputy briefly mentions that
the new auditorium where his nephew is performing in a play was built
to the jobs and dollars the crop generated. I'm not objecting to this
but for the fact that it is not discussed further or illustrated in
detail. You'd think that a movie dealing with drugs - and not a comedy
or an action flick - would use this opportunity to discuss what is no
a real-life fact for many struggling small towns in the northwest.
it looks like we'll have to wait longer for such a treatment in a movie.
for availability on Amazon (DVD)
See also: Phoenix, Your Three Minutes Are Up, Route 9