Directed by David Caffrey, starring Johnny Knoxville, Michael Shannon, Robert Forster, Marley Shelton and Christina Applegate.
Gram Parsons' legacy was a series of acclaimed albums which mapped out the fusion of country and rock and remain a massive influence over 30 years later. It's remarkable that the story of his death from drugs and alcohol in 1973, at the age of 26, and the events that followed it, has taken this long to reach the screen, given their cinematic potential and Parsons' ever-expanding fan base. But this film won't please the purists and will leave most of the curious unsatisfied too.
Parsons and his road manager Phil Kaufman (Knoxville) made a pact that whichever one of them died first, the other would cremate his body in the Joshua Tree desert of California. When Parsons ODs in a hotel room, Kaufman courageously faces up to his promise, but isn't sure how he will fulfil it. Enlisting the help of Larry Oster-Berg (Shannon), a hippy with a yellow hearse, Kaufman takes Parsons' body from a hanger at Los Angeles International Airport before the dead star's father (Forster) can bring it back to New Orleans. And that seems like the easy part: driving eastwards Kaufman must now placate Larry and dodge the police, a grieving father and Parsons' money hungry mistress (Applegate), if he is to honour his friend's wishes.
Irish director David Caffrey, whose previous films include 'On the Nose' and 'Divorcing Jack', has a good cast to work with but they are all undone by a feeble fact-mixed-with-fiction script that makes Kaufman's real life exploits at best episodic and at worst throwaway. With not enough humour to cut it as a comedy and lacking the emotional content to make it truly moving, 'Grand Theft Parsons' only lasts for 85 minutes and, even excusing its $1m budget, it's a running time that's an insult to a story with so much potential. Knoxville does well with the little he has to work with and Shannon is the real star as the grumbling, mumbling Larry, but they can't save this from being the type of thing someone sticks on at a party when they've run out of music at 3am.
Perhaps if the real-life Kaufman and Knoxville can do a DVD commentary it will help make this film something worth seeing - you'll leave a cinema, however, thinking Parsons' talent wasn't the only one wasted.