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Frat Pack Tribute Movie Review: The Minus Man

Review by Amy Gilbert

Owen Wilson and Janeane Garafalo star. Vann is a serial killer who poisons his victims. .. .no violence, nothing forced. People are "drawn to him because he shines". This was such a different role for Owen, it was a refreshing change. Apparently early in his career, the voice overs of his accent seem really pronounced. In a great decision to show that you are really looking into the mind of a killer, the soundtrack doesn’t even start until the movie is almost over. Some of the best scenes of the movie involve Vann and Ferrin with her obvious interest in him and his trouble in reciprocating. It is awkward, nonsexual, almost child-like and Owen does a great job pulling this off.

Verbally, Vann rarely gives anything up about himself. In an apparent alternative approach to intimacy, he takes Ferrin to a beautiful place on the beach he knows, very touching with them hugging and her stroking his hair, his desperate attempt to connect with her and draw from her “normalness”. Later you find out this spot on the beach is exactly where he buried one of his victims. He tries to initiate a relationship, telling her that he is “loosing it” then cops out and talks about loosing his hair. Later what looks like is going to be a romantic encounter results with him cowering in a fetal position on the floor. This scene was very well acted and directed… you could tell even the dog was upset by what had just transpired on the set.

Detached and innocently calculated, Vann narrates his take on life. He talks about the best way to know a person is to recognize if they can hurt you…. self preservation is such a basic instinct (even for a serial killer)… and is “slam bam thank you man”- demonstrated in an intense encounter with a woman, who gives him the willies and sends him running. But absent is any real knowledge or connection to anyone but two fictional FBI agents in his head.

I have talked very little about the relationship he develops with the couple he moves in with… basically because that plotline asks more questions than answers. What’s up with all the violent killings in the neighboring towns? Vann has stated that he has never done anything violent to kill anyone, but appears to be escalating in his last intense scene with Ferrin. Clearly there is more here then we see. I am going to check out the book.

Two moments in the movie bothered me and shame on the director for keeping them in! A nearby town called “Owensville” was distracting. I didn’t need any reminder who I was watching. Another moment… this one clearly created by ad lib… reminded me I was watching actors ACT. Ferrin says, “I want to cook for you” and Owen (not Vann) says “You cook?” Janenne sarcastically replies (not Ferrin) “No”. Owen’s facial expression to this and Janenne’s resulting sarcastic smirk reminded me I was watching a movie with ad-lib Owen Wilson and well, Janeane Garafalo.

4 out of 5 beer mugs (mostly for originality)

****

Netflix, Inc.