In a perfect world, Grand Theft Parsons would screen throughout the South, in the mid-'70s, in drive-in theaters, to undiscriminating rednecks drunk or stoned enough to embrace its rambling pace and lack of action. But now that drive-in theaters have mostly gone the way of the dinosaur, this laconic slacker comedy has been given an unceremonious burial. Based on the too-dull-for-fiction story of what happened to the remains of the late Gram Parsons, the film stars a typecast Johnny Knoxville as Parsons' loyal road manager, a hard-drinking, working-class shit-kicker who can't forgive himself for not being around to prevent his client's overdose. Determined to fulfill a pact he made with Parsons, Knoxville steals the singer's corpse so he can burn it in the desert. A one-note Christina Applegate plays Parsons' crazy ex-girlfriend, a domineering ball-buster with a questionable claim on Parson' estate, while a wasted Robert Forster lends his trademark quiet dignity to the underwritten role of Parsons' straight-arrow father. Parsons possesses the odd moment of unforced, goofy charm, mostly due to Michael Shannon's bone-dry performance as a spiritual hippie, but like most forgettable road movies, it ultimately rambles aimlessly without getting anywhere, clumsily combining slapstick with icky, unconvincing sentimentality. It's a weird wisp of a movie, a sleepy little would-be cult sleeper sans the cult.
The theft of a celebrity's body—this time a living one—takes center stage again in the Showtime comedy Stealing Sinatra, another true-life tale about wacky misfits working outside the law. Inspired by the true story of Frank Sinatra Jr.'s botched kidnapping, the film stars David Arquette as a pie-eyed dreamer who hatches a harebrained scheme to hold Sinatra for ransom, with the help of broken-down alcoholic William H. Macy and henchman Ryan Browning. Of course, any scheme masterminded by David Arquette is bound to unravel, so the question quickly isn't whether the plot will fail, but when and how it will become undone. The films' Keystone Krooks are strictly from the warm and fuzzy Bottle Rocket school of criminality, especially Macy, whose unlikely hood is a funny fusion of doting, fatherly advice and sleazy self-interest. Macy desperately wants to be perceived as a warm, loving father figure, not only to Arquette, but also to Sinatra Jr. (Thomas Ian Nicholas), even if it interferes with his duties as part of a criminal collective. Like the featherweight Parsons, Stealing Sinatra wears its modesty on its sleeve, but Macy's fine performance and its affectionate portrayal of larceny at its most comically inept make it an engaging, likable entry in the lively subgenre of ramshackle comedies about hapless crooks.