Combustible Celluloid Review - Adventures of the Naked Umbrella (2023), Gerald Brunskill, Gerald Brunskill, Jeremy Davies, Tom Arnold, Tayrn Manning, Richard Riehle, Darnell Rhea, Bert Rotundo, Rylee Marshall
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With: Jeremy Davies, Tom Arnold, Tayrn Manning, Richard Riehle, Darnell Rhea, Bert Rotundo, Rylee Marshall
Written by: Gerald Brunskill
Directed by: Gerald Brunskill
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 101
Date: 11/10/2023

Adventures of the Naked Umbrella (2023)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Pig Tale

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A would-be cult movie with conspiracy theories, an alien, a disco truck, a fake pig, weird Christmas songs, and a plaster "Salvation Mountain," this amiable mishmash ultimately doesn't add up to much.

Sam Wanoutsky (Jeremy Davies) is a conspiracy theorist podcaster and pyromaniac with three counts of arson on his record. One night near Christmas, his home explodes into flame due to a gas stove being accidentally turned on. Fearing prison, he, his wife Irene (Taryn Manning) and their pet pig Kevin hit the road. Sam, Irene, and Kevin go to see Granny (Richard Riehle), a drug-peddler, who immediately throws them out. So they flee to the desert to spend the night.

Sam's parole officer Yolanda Johnson (Darnell Rhea) is convinced of his innocence and begins trying to find him. Meanwhile, Deputy Charlie Curtain (Bert Rotundo) visits Granny looking for Sam, but also with a secret agenda. Soon, Granny's house is on fire as well, making Sam look doubly guilty. Can Sam clear his name and get back on the air?

Perhaps an attempt at a Buckaroo Banzai or John Waters-like oddity, Adventures of the Naked Umbrella benefits from certain of its characters, starting with Davies. A weird, unpredictable actor, he somehow instills Sam with a sweet likability. While on his podcast, he's a wild man, but in person, he's open-hearted, more than a little wounded, but hopeful and curious. His relationships with his parole officer Yolanda and his wife Irene are oddly genuine. (Yolanda insists that he never lies to her and we sense that she's right.)

However, it's hard to discern just what, if anything, Sam's journey really means. (Perhaps its faith, or time, or existence, or just… nothing?) The rest of the bells and whistles in the movie don't seem to contribute much, other than just being there and being weird. And there's a sour taste to some of the touches. But who knows? Perhaps Adventures of the Naked Umbrella is one of those movies that doesn't make sense now but will catch on with fans years later. Or maybe it won't.

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