The Crime Comedy ‘Blue Iguana’ Coasts by Thanks to its Talented Cast

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Blue Iguana

A combination of Sam Rockwell and Ben Schwartz seems like it can’t miss, right? Well, not exactly as proven by Blue Iguana, the new crime comedy from writer-director Hadi Hajaig. Thankfully, the combination of Rockwell and Schwartz are affable enough to help guide Blue Iguana through the various rough patches of its convoluted script, coasting by on the energy and charms of its headlining duo of hapless criminals.

Eddie (Rockwell) and Paul (Schwartz) are two ex-cons toiling away at a low-paying job at diner. The owner uses their parole status to exert control over his two obligated employees. One day, Katherine Rockwood (Phoebe Fox), a British lawyer, enters their dingy dining establishment with a proposition that will send them to England to pull off a simple little caper and earn $30,000 each. The bespectacled attorney gets them out of their work obligations and to Great Britain where the two ex-cons are tasked with intercepting a handoff and stealing a mysterious bag with undisclosed valuables. The easy job turns out to be anything but, and the botched caper means the American ex-cons are entangled in London’s criminal underworld. Katherine has an outstanding debt with the shady boss Arkady (Peter Polycarpou) and he has dispatched mulleted bad boy Deacon Bradshaw (Peter Ferdinando) to carry out the violent deeds. That means the only recourse for Eddie, Paul, and Katherine is to steal the immensely valuable Blue Iguana, a rare gem.

In a lot of ways, Blue Iguana reminds of the slew of Tarantino knockoffs that flooded theaters and video stores in the mid-‘90s. It’s a crime film that wants to have its moments of absurdly graphic violence, but no matter how many heads are blown off or limbs severed, the violence is never as shocking as intended. Like so many of those Tarantino rip-offs from the ‘90s, the dialogue of Blue Iguana thinks it’s much more clever than it really is, but that doesn’t amount to too much of problem in the film because Rockwell and Schwartz are capable of making a dirty bathroom limerick seem like the pinnacle of wit with their energetic, impassioned delivery. Where Blue Iguana runs into the most trouble is the machinations of its plot, which are needlessly convoluted. It seems like the film is ready to hit the ground running with its botch caper happening almost immediately after the film starts, but then Hajaig tries to obfuscate the players, the stakes, and MacGuffin in this crime caper.

One aspect of Blue Iguana that works rather well is the romance between Rockwell’s Eddie and Fox’s Katherine. It’s one of the few aspects of the film that seems to organically happen between its characters without the visible hand of its writer-director moving the pieces into place. A big part of that is the ability of Rockwell to play his role big and small in the same scene, brimming with showmanship but utilizing a light touch to illustrate there’s more depth to character than you were initially led to believe. The same is true of Phoebe Fox’s strong performance. The combination of these two actors and their characters almost seems like it’s being forced, but the film slowly finds its rhythm with the two and it turns out to be the film’s strongest character dynamic.

For all the faults of Blue Iguana, which there are quite a few, I was never bored. I walked away from Blue Iguana firmly believing that Hadi Hajaig is a better director than writer, as the film’s visual style is much more confident and assured than the film’s screenplay. But, as has been said many times in the past, 90% of directing is casting, and that leading duo of Sam Rockwell and Ben Schwartz goes a long way. However, it’s the casting of Phoebe Fox as the key role that drives this whole comedy of errors forward that pushes Blue Iguana over the top. The film may not be as clever and shocking as it wants to be, but it’s a bit of fun to watch this cast as a crew of often inept criminals.

Blue Iguana
  • Overall Score
3

Summary

A throwback to the Tarantino knockoffs of the ’90s, Blue Iguana isn’t as shocking or clever as writer-director Hadi Hajaig may think, but it passes by on the charms of its cast led by Sam Rockwell, Ben Schwartz, and Phoebe Fox.

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