An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn: One Magical Night Only

Some films fit into easy boxes. You can make a  mark next to the title placing it into a standard sort of category. Blazing Saddles is a Comedy. Halloween is a HorrorFilm. The Big Red One is a War Film. Dirty Harry is a Cop Movie. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a Western.  These films may fit into sub-genres, or may have aspects that require an asterisk for explanation, but for the most part they are a type of movie and you know what to do with them.  Then there are the movies that defy categorization. What bin do you place Pink Flamingos in? What of Visitor Q? And what the hell are we to do with An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn? Seriously, help me out. What type of movie even is this?

Wikipedia says that An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn (hereafter I shall call it “Evening”, otherwise the word count on this article will be as absurd as the movie itself) is an American-British Crime Comedy, but that isn’t even half the story.  Evening is also a mystery. It’s a love story. It’s a slice-of-(weird)-life. It’s an absurdist joke. It is, without a doubt, a fascinating and strange thing worthy of study.

The incredible Aubrey Plaza plays Lulu Danger, a waitress at a coffee shop that is run by her husband Shane (Emile Hirsch).  Lulu is bored, or sad, or maybe angry with life. It’s hard to know. Plaza has a facility for always looking like whomever she is near has bored her to the point of anger or angered her to the point of boredom and that talent is on display here.   

 While watching TV she sees a commercial for an event: ‘An Evening With Beverly Luff Lin; For One Magical Night Only ‘ is how the event is billed. We see that Lulu has a photograph of Beverly (Craig Robinson) hidden away in a drawer.

Shane learns that Lulu’s brother Adjay has money hidden in a lockbox and decides to steal it.  He hires a drifter named Colin (Jermaine Clement, but of course it’s Jermaine Clement) to steal the lock box. 

Things go quickly awry and Lulu and Colin steal the money and go on the run. They only run as far as the third rate hotel where Beverly is to perform.

We then meet Rodney Von Donkensteiger (Matt Berry in a role that Matt Berry was designed to play). Rodney manages Beverly, and maybe they are lovers. It’s hard to tell.

We finally meet Beverly,  who “speaks” only if Frankenstein type grunts.  This is one of the truly genius moves the movie makes. It bills Craig Robinson. Everyone talks about his character (the film is named for him, even) and we anticipate the funny hijinks and hilarious dialogue he will deliver, then he arrives and sounds like Boris Karloff with laryngitis.  It’s weirdly funny. Or funnily weird. I lose track.

We in the audience suspect that Lulu and Beverly were once in love. Colin is in love with Lulu. Rodney is in love with Beverly. It’s a mess, and that mess is hilarious.

Eventually we will learn what Beverly is famous for, and what all these people are buying tickets to see. We will resolve the love triangle. Everyone will come out the other side better and wiser. We still wont know what to call this damn movie, though.

Evening (hereafter An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn) is a wondrously weird film . Everyone involved seems fully committed to embracing that weirdness, and that makes it easy for us to join them.

Evening is hillarious in the way it makes you cringe. Everything in the world of this movie is just slightly off skew. The characters are not flat, but their edges have been ground off. There is an unreality to it all that would fail if anyone on screen ever acknowledged it. Thankfully they don't. Everyone is onboard with the wonderfully mad universe that they live in. You should be too.

-Nathan Tyree