Arkansas Quick View; Grade: C
Arkansas tells a story of a couple drug dealers Kyle (Liam Hemsworth) and Swin (Clark Duke). Their assigned to remain a low profile by being park rangers, in a couple small cabin complexes, and given simple orders. Kyle and Swin one day secured the bag, however the two made a wrong decision mainly on Swin’s part, causing one significant employer of this drug team to be murdered in his own attic. Kyle and Swin panic, as they don’t know whether to flee the state or act like nothing ever happened. Witness a couple drug dealers fear for their lives, while we learn the head of this operation back story of how became a successful drug dealer.
The Cinematography was quite solid, from a visual perspective I enjoyed looking at this film. The Score was solid as well, was really enjoying the soundtrack selections followed by the dirty south composed score. The cast overall I’d say they were fine, no one really has a great performance in this film, but they did their job just fine. Liam Hemsworth playing Kyle played a good performance, the character however was underwhelming. Same can be said about Clark Duke’s character Swin as well, but we’ll discuss that later. Clark Duke however had a typical Clark Duke performance, only this time he’s not in a silly comedy for once. Vince Vaughn playing Frog played a solid performance, easily the best character in the entire film, due to the fact there is actual depth and interest behind the character. I did enjoyed John Malkovich as Bright, as well as Michael Kenneth Williams as Almond. I felt the weakest performance was Eden Brolin playing Swin’s romantic interest, in the beginning the character felt charming at first, but then it got extremely annoying to the point where I gotten a headache. Can’t tell if it’s direction or the performance per say, either way there was struggle in line delivery as well.
So this is Clark Duke’s directorial debut. You know Clark Duke, the man in comedies such as Kick Ass, Hot Tub Time Machine, and Sex Drive. Though Clark Duke is an average at best actor and comedian, his face really stands out in the crowd, as when I saw whom was directing I instantly say, “Oh it’s that guy!” Arkansas is a film in which you’re surprised Clark Duke would make a film like this his debut. You figure a dumb stupid comedy, but Clark Duke chose a dirty south drama that resembles the styles of heavily on Quentin Tarantino and somewhat of S Craig Zahler as well... Not bad choices to have your film inspired by.
Arkansas as a whole had some redeemable qualities, however it does have problems. The story itself as told wasn’t half bad, a simple tale that is rather interesting. The problem I have with this story is depth behind our main characters. While we do get a full back story on the head leader Frog, which is honestly the best chapters of this entire story. However we are left with barely much of anything behind the main characters of this story: Kyle and Swin. We only know Kyle is a drug dealer and Swin has sisters... You see what I’m saying? In Clark Duke’s defense, he probably figures this would be a two hour and forty five minute film if he brought us depth to our main characters. But I can argue as if you’re going to give us depth behind our supporting character, why not do the same for the MAIN characters?! Also since this is heavily influence by Tarantino, then you would know Tarantino doesn’t care how long the film is. Tarantino get’s every single detail needed, in order to make a complete project, that’s what makes him special. One other flaw to mention is the finale... I felt underwhelmed with it. It’s a type of finale where it’s suppose to be action packed, yet it’s honestly a bit dull for my taste.
I think if this film was handled by Tarantino it would’ve been a lot better. The story has potential to being good, even Duke doesn’t really do that bad of a job here. It’s just Duke sold himself a good hour short of this story, you got to provide more meat on the bones of these characters, especially if they’re going to be your main ones. I would like to see this film be adapted as a mini series, I do see potential of creating a very cool and more engaging story for television. For Clark Duke’s debut I give him some props and I think he shall learn from his mistakes, in order to create much better projects in the future.
Overall, Arkansas is just ok. I would try to watch this as a Red Box rental, definitely the best two star rated film of the year so far, as it almost made it on my recommendation list. Hope you all had a nice Mothers Day yesterday, God Bless all the strong independent mothers, as they are the unsung heroes of our entire existence on this planet. -Mitch Smietana