Live Free or Die (2006)
"The criminal mind is a terrible thing to waste "Lackluster criminals look to pull a job in the Granite State.
a novel setting and a sweet tone make for a fun offbeat comedy
Scenic New Hampshire serves as the novel setting for "Live Free or Die"
(not to be confused with the later Bruce Willis film, "Live Free or Die
HARD"), an entertaining indie comedy that takes its title from the
state's time-honored motto of in-your-face defiance.
John Rudgate - who goes by the nickname "Rugged" - is an inept wannabe
tough guy who fancies himself a notorious outlaw. He spends most of his
days riding around in a dilapidated van trying to convince others - as
well as himself - that he is, indeed, the most feared lawbreaker in the
county. In reality, the "stolen" merchandise he is moving is actually
his own stuff, and the gun he keeps in a drawer in the kitchen is
nothing more than a water pistol. The folks in town shrug him off as
little more than an irritating pest with delusions of criminal
grandeur. Like any villain worth his salt, Rudgate needs to find
himself a sycophantic henchman who will do a substantial amount of his
dirty work for him. He alights on Lagrand, a simpleminded, but
sweet-natured acquaintance who co-owns a storage facility with his
sister, a clear-eyed pragmatist who, unlike her brother, knows a BS-ing
con artist when she sees one.
Although the movie can't entirely shake free of the "oddball
quirkiness" factor that seems to afflict so much of regional
film-making these days, movie makers Gregg Kavet and Andy Robin evince
a genuine affection for their characters and a sly way with
storytelling that go a long way towards mitigating that weakness. They
are aided immeasurably by wonderfully self-effacing performances by
Paul Schneider, Michael Rapaport, Zooey Deschanel, and, above all,
Aaron Stanford, who, as Rudgate, turns a potentially one-note
caricature into an endearingly original and surprisingly memorable
comic figure. And, besides, the colorful New England setting is alone
worth the price of a rental.
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