Movie review

Grand Theft Parsons
Johnny Knoxville, Christina
Applegate, Michael Shannon

Director : David Caffrey

Grand Theft ParsonsGrand Theft Parsons tells the extraordinary tale of country-rock star Gram Parsons and the bizarre pact that he made with his enigmatic road manager Phil Kaufman. Though never hugely famous, he was nevertheless a huge influence on some of the biggest bands around at the time, including The Rolling Stones. It was through The Rolling Stones that Parsons came to meet the man who would eventually become his road manager and best friend, Phil Kaufman.
    Whilst at the funeral of a mutual friend, Parsons and Kaufman started discussing how they would wish their own funerals to be handled. After much drunken debate, a pact was made between the two that whoever died first, the other would take their body out to their favourite part of the desert, near Joshua Tree in California, cremate them and 'release their spirit' into the desert. A mere two months after the pact was made, Parsons died in a hotel room from a drugs overdose. Kaufman wasn't with him at the time, and before he could intervene, Parsons' body was on its way to Louisiana, having become a pawn in a battle for his considerable estate. Kaufman, with the help of a few friends, managed to intercept the body at the airport, drive it across California and give his friend the funeral he had been promised.

Grand Theft Parsons follows that journey across California, bringing to life one of rock 'n' roll's best, though largely untold, folklore tales. Johnny Knoxville does an admirable job in his first major film role as Phil Kaufman, portraying as he does a reasonably down to earth character who finds himself in a far from usual situation.
    Good support comes in the form of the sumptuous Christina Applegate as Parsons' bitter and scorned ex-lover and Michael Shannon as Kaufman's strung-out hippy accomplice. Robert Forster crops up as Parsons' father, in pursuit of his son's body-snatchers, bringing some poise to the otherwise chaotic shenanigans.

Perhaps understandably, Grand Theft Parsons doesn't make a lot of effort to do much other than rely on its strange but mostly true storyline. The result is a light-hearted and whimsical affair that puts across the friendship that resulted in one man stealing the body of his friend, rather than exploiting the story as the body-snatcher tale it could have been. All in all, Grand Theft Parsons is an enjoyable, humourous and watchable effort.

:: Philip Goodfellow

Go to top of page
Latest articles

Alone in the dark: Buffy The Vampire Slayer bows out in style with the Season Seven DVD Collection.

Johnny Knoxville plays him in the movie Grand Theft Parsons, but counterculture speaks to the man himself: Phil Kaufman interviewed.