This dark comedy is based on a true incident. In 1978, a couple of thieves dug up Charlie Chaplin’s body in Switzerland and unsuccessfully tried to extort ransom from his family. In this modern version, the story is transported to Las Vegas a distinctly a more gritty milieu. The grave robbers this time are a couple of British brothers, deeply in debt to the mob who need some quick cash. Cal (Simon Phillips) and Terry (Doug Phillips, not related) are small time conmen, but when Terry loses big on a stupid bet, they’re given one week to come up with the dough or it’s curtains! Cal is the brains of the outfit, but he’s at a loss, so when Terry tosses out the Chaplin idea, he figures they have nothing to lose.
Multiple threads are running concurrently in the film. A good cop is on the tail of the brothers for wire fraud because of Terry’s bogus online charity funder for leprosy. The mobsters are knocking each other off, as is their violent wont. There’s a dirty cop colluding with the mob who isn’t too bright. Cal and Terry’s landlord is demanding they pay their back rent. And in the midst of it all, Cal is wooing a sweet waitress (Bianca Katz) from the local diner. And then the coffin is stolen, and EVERYONE is scrambling to get their hands on it for the $100,000 reward.
The charm of the film comes from the brothers’ relationship and their banter. The multiple story lines are sometimes a bit much, but you like these petty criminals and you’re pulling for them to outrun the mobsters and make it all right. The press notes tell another great story of the production. How the writer took on the role of Terry and one of the producers that of Cal. And several of the other producers play mobsters. And Wayne Newton makes an appearance in a small cameo, and he was key in getting the low-budget film shot in Vegas.
It’s a very indie little film, and sometimes that low budget shows, but it’s fun and perfect for streaming in the comfort of your own home.
On Amazon Prime, beginning August 3rd.