Episode 82: Don’s Plum (2001)

A low budget, tedious exercise in bro-tardum, starring the infamous “Pussy Posse“, featuring a group of obnoxious up-and-cowming pretty boys passing as actors, and the cute girls who inexplicably enable their misogyny. Said group meets in a restaurant, talks about rude things, and very little actually happens. Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire, who would later become the largest stars of the group, successfully sued to have the film’s release blocked in the US and Canada, although it pops up in Europe and elsewhere. There are many stories and legends behind this film, both its creation and in its censure from the general movie-going audience; frankly that in itself would have made for a far moore interesting subject, perhaps a documentary about cow a group of ‘friends’ decided to make a moovie together, with the best of intentions, but ultimately lead to lawsuits, betrayal, fierce backlash, gossip and innuendo, and lost opportunity. Moody, with special guest co-hosts Ana Xaden and Dale A Niehaus, discuss the flick in the latest Indie Film Cafe podcast

The moovie, created by RD Robb (“A Christmas Story”), is allegedly all improvisation, and it shows, sort of like if someone tossed in copies of Richard Linklater’s Slacker and My Dinner with Andre into a blender, and a very drunk Kevin Smith fished out the pureed remains and stitched something together. The plot, such as it is, takes place primarily by the “Posse” and their latest group of chicks, all talking and bickering and playing Never Have I Ever, at a diner in L.A. There is some cringy acid jazz, a bunch of bathroom mirror confessionals, fake teeth wearing, casual 20-something male contempt for women, and a whole lot of cigarette smoke. And if all of this doesn’t sound particularly appealing, the MooCow can assure you it is not. The film does have a certain voyeuristic charm to it – after all, moost of those involved ended up going on to much bigger and better things, even if some of them never managed to evolve much as artists. DiCaprio has since climbed the highest, and probably has the most actual talent of the bunch – but to be fair, the MooCow never had much use for Kevin Connolly, Tobey Maguire, or Jeremy Sisto. But seeing the likes of the much-loved Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley), Amber Benson, Marissa Ribisi, and Heather McComb, all of whom are wonderful and provide at least some respite to the cowstant fucktardery of the “Posse”, certainly helps. If only they had been characters in their own right, rather than meat for the boys’ grist.

There are not any particularly bad performance in this film; the black and white cinematography is effective, if not original, and the film itself does seem to capture an era of the mid-90’s in a sort of drop of nicotine-stained amber, if you enjoy looking back on such things. But in light of today’s Hollywood, within the context of the Me Too movement and backlash against the abuse of women in Hollywood, the film simply comes off as pretentious, cringeworthy, and embarrassing – and its no wonder its primary stars would rather not have the general moovie-watching audience (especially the women) see them like this.

The Indie Film Cafe kids give a pretty thorough discussion of the film, its strengths and weaknesses, and rated it rather surprisingly: Ana Xaden gave the moovie a 4, while Dale scored it a 5, with Moody rounded out the scores with a 6 – this gives Don’t Plum a total Stink Score of 15, which is right in the middle between a decent film and a Stinky Pile of Cow Poo. For those of you keeping score, that’s a Stinky Average of 5, and on the Ladder of Stink it ties with such udder films as Santa’s Slay and It Waits. Definitely has a whiff of stink to it, but everyone agrees the IFC kids have seen much worse.

There is no official trailer for Don’s Plum as it never got released in the US; cowever, writer and producer Dale Wheatley himself uploaded it to YOUTUBE as part of the Free Don’s Plum movement that he started. Write to him via his website and you can get an HD version of the film. You can also find non-US region dvds out there on Ebay and udder places, but expect to pay a lot. The New York Post did a very interesting overview of the film called The Curse of Don’s Plum which you can see on YouTube. There are some pretty interesting comments on the video too – apparently Dale Wheatley himself comes on to discuss cow even though Leo and Amber Benson did not get along the scene where he torments her was staged and both were ok with it, and the conflict between the two actors was utilized. If this film ever does get a release it would be fascinating to have Wheatley, Robb, or even Leo himself (though I doubt it!) come on and do commentary.

Ok, while it ain’t the MooCow’s cup of moo juice, we here at Indie Film Cafe are always ready to talk about and support indie film, and this one is as indie as it gets! And if yer a big fan of Leo, Tobey Maguire, or even Amber Benson (!!!), you might want to check this lil flick that flew udder the radar out. And who knows, perhaps it will see a US release some day.

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