Directed and co-written by Jared Hess, known for the sleeper hit Napoleon Dynamite, Don Verdean is an example of when the timing and hilarity of a movie fail to make the mark. Hess uses jokes that are there, but the subject matter doesn’t work in this storyline.
Verdean is hired by a determined small-town pastor to find sacred artifacts in the Holy Land. Verdean presents himself as an archeologist but doesn’t deliver the goods and attempts to cover up his fiasco. The hilarity enters the story when he tries to cover up his serious mistake.
Jared movies are pretty clean when it comes to harsh language, but Don Verdean changes that style. We hear the more common expletive words in the English language, and it is not funny. Besides that, Sam Rockwell provides a performance worth watching. He offers some serious hilarity to the idiosyncrasies of a well-intended archeologist. His accent holds its own quite well with his quirky slang. I would like to see more of an arch in his decent to misbehaving. Amy Ryan is great as Carol Jensen. Her mannerisms and timing work well with the material Hess offers.
The crux of the storyline is forced and not simply told because the movie is off-beat, slap stick, and then serious. The ending comes quickly but is worth watching because there is a surprise. Here the story comes to form, and it is easy to see what Hess is trying to get across to the audience. I should mention the co-writer is Hess’ wife, Jerusha. I am not sure what aspect she contributed to the movie, but she does collaborate with her husband on each of his movies.
I am sure some will find the humor both eccentric and indirectly nonsense. The cast is fantastic, but the comedy is not mainstream. You will probably have a good time watching the movie if you are familiar with the Bible.