(By Walt Williams). Shooting starts next week, it’s a micro tale of small town politics but what it really represents is a warning for the world of industrial capitalism keeping the little guy down.
A haggard Johnny Depp plays mayor Ken Brown, a man so committed to public service that he eschews fame, financial gain, and sometimes his own opinions to make the town a better place. Kevin Spacey plays vineyard manager and city councilmember David Cook whose company stands to lose billions of potential dollars in revenue if forced to switch to rakes.
David Bolling plays himself, of course, as editor of the small town newspaper being squeezed by a lobbyist (Darius Anderson, played by Bruce Willis) who is slowly purchasing the entire town to secretly turn it into “Disneyland North”. Since Mr. Anderson is also funding the entire movie, he also is in charge of basically everything.
Other players include Scarlet Johansen as Lisa Summers, the outspoken poet/scientist bringing the real issues to the people through her tireless research into “airborne pathogens.” Courtney Cox plays super energetic school superintendent Louann Carlomagno, promising that “blowers are the new soda, they have no place on our school campuses”. And fluffy funny man Gabriel Iglesias plays landscape worker Abraham who, because of a scarring rake accident from childhood, must use leaf blowers to do his job.
Lots of small town intrigue as in the pivotal city council scene where Depp goes through a transformative epiphany (channeling his inner Hunter Thompson from “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”). He realizes that the real issue is actually wealthy white people (The Man) keeping down poor Hispanics (The working class) by taking away the tools that make their lives easier (Technology). Same story in China, India, Africa, and the rest of the world: big business suppressing the worker, keeping the little man down. Heavy stuff.
Then when Johansen discovers that the blowers are actually at the center of the recent zombie-like flu symptoms affecting the residents of Armstrong Estates things get really nuts. An airborne Ebola-like, pesticide-mutated virus takes over the town and a second issue arises when residents flock to the local hospital only to discover that it is ill equipped for such emergencies (potential sequel).
In the end, Depp, Spacey, Willis and Johansen team up to save the town and its residents before the government orders the dropping of a fuel-air bomb to erase the virus and the area. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a cameo as the president, “Forget dees small town, zehr are better wineries in Napa.”
There are plenty of exciting leaf blower action scenes courtesy of writer Robert Kamen. Plus, an unforgettable animated interlude, which explains the sensitive, misunderstood side of the leaf blower as only John Lasseter and his Pixar team, can.
Real issues! Real problems! Real people! Real controversy! Look for it in theatres this spring.