Eric D. Snider

Run Ronnie Run

The sublimely offensive fellows behind HBO's "Mr. Show" have expanded their considerable talents into movie form with "Run Ronnie Run," which is by turns hilarious and amateurish, but which is mostly very entertaining.

If you were unfortunate enough to see "Joe Dirt," you are already acquainted with the plot, which explores what happens when white trash becomes famous. Ronnie Dobbs (David Cross) is a well-known figure in Doravilla, Ga., liked by everyone except the cops, who arrest him regularly for reckless juvenilism like urinating in the reservoir or stealing a school bus.

He is arrested so often, in fact, that he's become a familiar face on a "Cops"-style TV show. This draws the attention of Terry Twillstein (Bob Odenkirk), the British, bow-tied man of a thousand infomercials who desperately needs a product that will sell. He whisks Ronnie away from Doraville and puts him in his own reality TV show: "Ronnie Dobbs Gets Arrested," where he is dropped into a different city every week, left to his own devices, and inevitably arrested by the local fuzz.

Soon he is rich and famous, and joined in Hollywood by some of his Georgia friends (including one played by David Koechner, who also narrates). All that remains is to convince his estranged wife Tammy (Jill Talley) that he's worth a second (well, fourth) chance.

The mullet culture is played heavily for laughs, but unlike the unlikable "Joe Dirt," this film is not ONLY about mocking the white trash among us. There are many sly, laugh-out-loud-funny bits parodying TV and celebrity culture, and a wonderful throwaway diversion about the "gay conspiracy" the conservatives are always talking about.

That said, there is much great humor at the expense of white trash, too, though none of it seems malicious. There's a montage set to that great dirtbag anthem "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," and Ronnie himself is as cheerfully belligerent and socially ignorant as every moron you've ever seen on "Cops."

Celebrity cameos abound, from the likes of Ben Stiller, Patrick Warburton, Jeff Goldblum, Garry Shandling, Jack Black and Mandy Patinkin. Patinkin is uproariously funny as himself, playing Ronnie in "Ronnie Dobbs: The Musical." ("Y'all Are Brutalizing Me" is his big torch song, sung to the cops who are trying to arrest him and who clearly are not brutalizing him.)

Some of the biggest laughs are from the shock value and not from the actual content; a hilariously literal sex song appearing in the movie is considerably less funny the second time through, when it's heard over the closing credits. Unlike some shock-meisters, though, Cross and company (he, Odenkirk, Scott Aukerman, BJ Porter and Brian Posehn -- all of "Mr. Show" -- are credited as writers) seem somehow innocent about it. Rather than rolling in the filth, they merely present the filth with a straight face and move on. They never shove it down your throat, and it doesn't seem like they'd mind if you didn't find it funny.

The hit-to-miss ratio on the jokes is surprisingly good, but the movie still has very little to it. It is, after all, just a dumb story about a dumb guy, and it's sometimes too simple for its own good. When something subversive and witty happens, one realizes how much better the film could have been, had it stayed with that route.

Grade: B+

Rated R, frequent harsh profanity, abundant sexually graphic dialogue, some drug use, some extreme comic violence

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