The Feud

  • 1990
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy

Dolf Beeler (Ron McLarty) and Bud Bullard (Joe Grifasi) are just two ordinary, everyday Americans living in neighboring small towns. Beeler works in a factory, Bullard owns a hardware store. Each man has a pretty wife, an attractive home, and a loving family. But all that is about to change. Things begin simply enough, when Beeler tries to buy a can of...read more

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Dolf Beeler (Ron McLarty) and Bud Bullard (Joe Grifasi) are just two ordinary, everyday Americans living in neighboring small towns. Beeler works in a factory, Bullard owns a hardware store. Each man has a pretty wife, an attractive home, and a loving family. But all that is about to

change. Things begin simply enough, when Beeler tries to buy a can of paint thinner from Bullard's sullen son, Junior (Rob Vanderberry). Junior takes disrespectful exception to Beeler's unlit cigar, spitefully citing the store's "No Smoking" policy. Beeler gets all hot under the collar and gives

the boy a piece of his mind, only to find himself looking down the business end of a pistol held by Bullard's cousin, Reverton (Rene Auberjonois), a black-clad railroad detective with a few screws loose. Bullard tries to mediate the dispute, alternately scolding and supporting his son, apologizing

to Beeler while suggesting Beeler was in the wrong, and encouraging Reverton to keep things in perspective, but the damage is done. Everyone's feeling offended and wronged, and no one quite knows what to do about it. There's no feud yet, but the stage is set, leaving Beeler fretting and Bullard

fuming. However, it takes two unfortunate coincidences to get the fires really burning--quite literally, as it happens. The next morning, Bullard awakens to find his store in ashes. Later that day, Beeler's car explodes. Both men leap to the natural (though, as it happens, incorrect) conclusions,

and the battle is on. To complicate matters, Beeler's son (Scott Allegrucci) and Bullard's daughter (Lynne Killmeyer) are deeply in puppy love, Beeler's daughter (Gale Mayron) is pregnant and determined to convince the local chief of police (Stanley Tucci) that he's the father, and Junior jumps

tracks when Reverton lends him his gun, turning into a wanton juvenile delinquent faster than you can say "rebel without a cause." What a muddle! And we haven't even mentioned the sleek stranger who says he's a bowling-ball salesman but seems to have bigger things on his mind, the neighborhood

techno-nerd whose sole aim in life is to blow things up, or the relentlessly optimistic Mrs. Bullard, who faces everything--from her husband's attempted suicide to his mad conviction that he's a gorilla--with an apparently endless supply of cheerful bromides.

Once the action is set in motion, THE FEUD concerns itself less with the feud itself--the Beelers and the Bullards aren't, after all, shotgun-blasting Hatfields and McCoys--than with the quirky personalities populating two superficially ordinary small towns. Director Bill D'Elia (in his feature

debut) and writer Robert Uricola, who adapted the screenplay from the novel by Thomas Berger (whose Little Big Man and Neighbors were also filmed), aren't interested in madcap farce. Instead, they've constructed a deceptively low-key and surprisingly macabre comedy, rooted in the notion that

madness lies just below the surface of everyday life and it only takes a single wrong turn, one careless whisper, to unleash the chaos. That's not to say THE FEUD is unrelentingly dark. In fact, the film's costumes, production design, and cinematography are all aggressively sunny, evoking an

archetypal, early 60s suburban America, and the characters, though quirky, owe more to "Father Knows Best" than to the psychopaths of David Lynch's BLUE VELVET. But there's an unmistakable edge to things, and THE FEUD plays for keeps. Characters die and lives are destroyed, the

all's-well-that-ends-well denouement notwithstanding.

THE FEUD also features a stylized graphic titles sequence in which names are folded, spindled, mutilated, and eventually incinerated by a twisting, turning fuse. Its anachronistic look seems at first excessively mannered, but ultimately fits right in with the movie's winking, self-referential

tone. (Violence.)

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  • Released: 1990
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Dolf Beeler (Ron McLarty) and Bud Bullard (Joe Grifasi) are just two ordinary, everyday Americans living in neighboring small towns. Beeler works in a factory, Bullard owns a hardware store. Each man has a pretty wife, an attractive home, and a loving fami… (more)

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