Escanaba In Da Moonlight
Despite activists' continued efforts to purge the culture of mean-spirited generalizations, plenty of antiquated and insulting geographic stereotypes have not only survived, but thrived. For proof, look no further than Escanaba In Da Moonlight, a rancid and incompetent comedy that does for Upper Midwesterners what Breakfast At Tiffany's did for the Japanese. The directorial debut of star Jeff Daniels, Escanaba takes place in the titular locale, a hick haven in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where evolution seems to have passed most of the locals by and individual worth is determined by hunting prowess. Daniels, who also scripted Escanaba, stars as a star-crossed "buckless yooper," a local who has never bagged a deer. This shortcoming makes him a pariah to everyone other than his wise, innately spiritual Native American wife. Determined to shed the tag once and for all, Daniels retreats to a cabin with his hunting-obsessed brother and grandfather, only to be visited by a strange presence prone to causing nerdy DNR agents to disrobe and cars to burst into flames. What follows suggests Evil Dead II as directed by a lobotomized Garrison Keillor: A scene in which Daniels' compatriots attempt to rouse him from a trance by grinding him into the rear of a flatulent hillbilly provides a good indication of what Escanaba has to offer. Michigan-born Daniels perhaps intended the film as an affectionate tribute to his roots, but its repellent collection of yokels and its obsession with urine and flatulence make it less a cinematic valentine to the Upper Midwest than a giant clump of feces hurled in its direction.