This is the first full-length film directed by the actor Craig Sheffer, and
is supposed to exist somewhere between the world of hip relationship comedies
and the world of Tarantino-style post-modern gangster tales. It relates two
intersecting stories, each involving several people on one night in L.A.
The central plot thread involves an amoral man (Ron Livingstone) who is
about to lose the love of his life forever when she marries his best friend
(Rob Schneider). His scheme to prevent that involves getting the friend into
so much debauchery on the night of his bachelor party that no sensible woman
would consider marrying such a depraved man. Getting involved in the scheme
are a tranny hooker, her horny handyman, and some cops.
The secondary story involves an underground group of ne'er-do-wells who
kidnap young girls and use them in raunchy sex films, or sell them to perverts
as sex slaves. Many of the girls end up dead, but one woman who eventually
escaped their clutches (Jennifer Esposito) has an elaborate scheme to gain
brutal revenge on them while emptying their bank accounts at the same time.
In various ways not worth detailing, the Livingstone/Schneider plot gets
entwined with the other.
When a film is completed in 2005, disappears for three years and finally
gets released to DVD without fanfare, you'd expect that it is not a very good
film. And you would be correct. The production values are comparable to those
on a soap opera or a live show from the 1950s (worst fake fire ever). The
humor is juvenile and some of the allegedly humorous characters are racially
offensive, particularly two
intellectually challenged Latinos. The characters who are not offensive are
either utterly unappealing (Livingstone's parents, e.g.), or totally
one-dimensional and stereotypical (the tranny hooker and the innocent
schoolgirl in her pleated skirt and long white socks, e.g.). The only bright
spot in the film is Rob Schneider, who plays his usual "lovable, regular guy
who's kind of a schmuck" character. Schneider's is the only character you
might actually like, and he invested the film with its only sympathetic
moments. I like Rob, but it doesn't say much for a film when its sole saving
grace is Rob Schneider in a supporting role.
American Crude was meant to be a blacker-than-thou comedy and it does play
out like a black comedy, except without generating any of that pesky laughter.
Frankly there probably is just not that much humor to be found in guys who
kidnap and exploit underage girls, even if their dumb Mexican lackeys
occasionally kidnap a sheep by mistake.
Here is a trailer, if you really want to know more. The trailer makes it
seem zany and stupid. That's a bit misleading. It's actually zany, stupid and
repulsive. Not only do I not recommend this film, but I strongly advise
against it. It's not only puerile, but it's so cavalier in its attitude toward
animal and child abuse, and just so generally odious, that it will leave you
feeling like you need a shower.