Movie Magazine International

Kicked in the Head

USA - 1997

Movie Review By Heather Clisby

Directed by Matthew Harrison, October Films delivers a swift one with "Kicked in the Head." Starring Kevin Corrigan as the hapless Redmond, the film was co-written by Harrison and Corrigan as a valentine to those lost in their own lives.

Redmond is on a quest, y'see, for the truth. He's even writing a book about it - the journey, that is. See, his apartment burned down or he was evicted, we're not sure which. Also, he had to quit his job because the annoying boss was always telling him what to do.

Then there's Uncle Sam (the adorably hateful James Woods,) a small-time hustler who doesn't hesitate to send Redmond on dangerous drug deliveries, meanwhile, hitting him up for cash and reminding him to call his mother. Sam's a unique piece o'work.

Redmond ends up on the doorstep of his old friend, Stretch (Michael Rappaport,) who runs his own beer distribution company and does enjoy shooting people that bother him. (Note: This film has lots of shooting from characters with such poor aim that no one ever takes a bullet. It looks wonderfully un-Hollywood and resembles small boys playing with toy pistols.) Redmond - sweet, pathetic sap that he is - believes his attendant godling, his guardian angel, is the steel-hearted Megan, played with cold vulnerability by Linda Fiorentino. She is not convinced and toys with him accordingly.

"Kicked in the Head" is a tense little film but funny and endearing with clever devices like a hit man sporting a pocket dictionary around his neck to deliver more distinguished threats. At times, the dialogue gets rather Tarantino-esque with guys sitting around a table talking philosophy using hip urban slang and pop culture references. The film is based on a similarly horribly time in Corrigan's life, which explains why Redmond comes across so darn sincere you don't know whether to slap him or hug him.

Lili Taylor has a small role as happy, Redmond's ex, who refuses to believe he doesn't want to be with her. When was the last time we saw Taylor portray just a really nice person? ('Happy' is short for 'Clueless' but nevertheless . . . ) Then there's the effortless Burt Young, playing Jack, a successful gangster who is into spelling examples, "with a 'g', like phlegm," he says.

Using two recurring images - the Hindenburg crash and a lost dog pulling a shopping cart - a certain sense of doom is implied. With a mixture of misdirection and blind optimism, this film delivers some very funny scenes from a cast who seem to fully understand the title; the experience is not unlike the real thing.

© 1997 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 9/17/97

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