Buffalo 66 is a quirky independent comedy that’s heavy on the quirky and independent, and light on the comedy. Vincent Gallo’s directoral debut, the film is a meandering mess that almost comes together at the end.
Billy Brown (Gallo) has just got out of prison after serving time for a crime (that he says) he didn’t commit. He has a few simple goals: find a bathroom, visit his folks (Anjelica Huston and Ben Gazzara), and kill the one man he believes was responsible for ruining his life.
However, none of those three goals are as easy as they at first seem…particularly his parental visit. You see, he never told them he had been in prison. Instead, they believe he is a successful businessman with a beautiful young wife.
To continue the deception, he enlists the help of Layla (Christina Ricci), a young student he kidnaps from a tap dancing studio. At first she is an unwilling accomplice, but she soon warms to Billy, and, much to his dismay, starts taking charge of the situation.
Billy Brown isn’t a very likable character, and he’s not interesting enough to carry the film along with that flaw. Layla is a tad more sympathetic, but she remains a complete question mark throughout the movie. Why is she desperate enough for love that she clings to her kidnapper? We never learn.
Billy’s parents are amusing when they are first introduced, but they quickly outlast their welcome. Unfortunately, Buffalo 66 milks this gag for much more than it’s worth. As a result, we get to spend extended time with these one-note characters, and the film suffers almost as much as the audience.
There are a couple of nearly-redemptive scenes toward the very end. We start to get a sense of what the film might have been with a little tighter direction by star Vincent Gallo. Alas, it is too little, too late.
With its off-key characters, unusual shooting styles and dialogue-heavy script, Buffalo 66 seems like the quintessential “indie film”. Unfortunately, it’s the type of indie film which gives “indie films” a bad name: style-heavy, pointless and just a tad pretentious.