Chicago International Film Festival Review
Chasing The Blues
I get a huge kick out of Jon Lovitz. I think he’s turned out outstanding performances in just about everything he’s been in, no matter how big or small those performances may be, he has always delivered. When I read that he was starring in a small comedy called “Chasing the Blues,” I got excited. Turned out that his role in the movie wasn’t as big as I had hoped, but that was ok. He does well even when he keeps his time short.
Lovitz walks into a prison, wearing a baby blue leisure suit. He visits a man named Alan Thomas, played by Grant Rosenmeyer. Thomas has been in prison now for an undisclosed amount of time, and it sounds like he got there because of murder. Lovitz’ character doesn’t know him personally, but he has something Thomas really wants. He is willing to bail Thomas out of jail in order to give him this thing he wants. But he travel on a cross-country bus from Illinois to Louisiana in order to get it. While Lovitz chokes on a horrible Southern accent, and I do want to stress the horrible Southern accent. Lovitz is still pretty convincing in this opening scene and it sets up the movie with a sweet little mystery.
Thomas then hops on the next bus to Louisiana, and he quickly befriends Vanessa, played by Chelsea Tavares. She is an aspiring singer and they both bond over music, particularly the blues. That is what Thomas is after. He collects blues records, he had hundreds and hundreds of them in his personal collection, but there was a rare one that he almost got, but didn’t. It’s a recording of a song that was cursed, only four were records of this song were made because the song killed people. Some people heard the screaming woman of the singer’s girlfriend dying on the track, and the screaming drove them mad. So it never became a hit, but it became a legend in the world of blues music. Thomas nearly got his hands on one of these forbidden records. When a neighbor named Mrs. Walker (Anna Maria Horsford) was giving her son’s records away, once he confirms she can. Thomas though, has to compete for the record with a music store owner named Paul Bettis, played by Ronald L. Connor.
The whole movie is Thomas reflecting on how he went from camping out in Mrs. Walker’s apartment for this forbidden record to going to prison. It is kind of an odd story, but it sets up the movie for some big laughs. Connor and Rosmeyer do some good work, as these two desperate souls determined to find out if this lauded record will kill them if they listen to it or if they can resist the curse and enjoy the music. Does the curse really exist? They don’t know, both of them know they want it. It would be another sweet addition to Thomas’ collection and it would look good in Paul’s shop. So, they sit for over three days, waiting to hear back from Mrs. Walker’s son. Is Mrs. Walker playing the two men? No answer is ever given.
There is a weird structure to the film, but the film is a small film that packs a decent punch here and there. There is some remarkable music throughout the film that will make you tap your foot. Lovitz is really good in his two big scenes, but that Southern accent is really bad. Everyone else does really good work here. The good acting kind of saves this film from its quasi-messy script. It’s a movie that you can teleplay in your head from the beginning. While there is a shocking moment in the closing scenes, everything that happens isn’t surprising. In mysteries, no matter how small, I like a little surprise. I could see everything coming by the end of this film.
But just because I could see how this road was going to end, doesn’t mean that I hated the ride. There was lots of fun energy in this movie that made this trip worthwhile. I liked moments in this movie. I liked certain scenes in this movie, I don’t know if they add up together quite well. But they sure do try. If you like a goofy plot that pushes a few laughs, then you might actually like this one.
FINAL GRADE: B-