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Kicked in the Head
Louis Goldman

Nothing to Fear but Beer Itself: Michael Rapaport plays a brew broker with problems in Matthew Harrison's 'Kicked in the Head.'

Indie filmmaking doesn't always mean taking chances

By Rob Nelson

ACTOR MICHAEL RAPAPORT'S off-screen reputation as a troublemaker (Lili Taylor has a restraining order against him, for one thing) isn't likely to get a boost from Kicked in the Head, a smug and creepy New York farce in which he plays a hotheaded beer distributor whose business is under siege from some multiculti thugs. The Rapaport character's motto is "Life is what happens to you when you're bein' afraid of shit." Yeah, and Kicked in the Head is what happens when indie cinema becomes synonymous with low-risk deal-making, whereby a big-shot exec-producer (in this case, Martin Scorsese) assembles an affordable clique of nouveau brat packers, leaving each to his own "Method" shtick.

As in the Scorsese-led Search and Destroy, this screwball-improv approach makes the very least of some very talented actors. Co-writer Kevin Corrigan takes the lead as Redmond, an unemployed and homeless twentysomething who strains to write a book of pseudo-poetry as part of his "spiritual quest"; Rapaport is Stretch, who lends his apartment to the effort; Taylor is Happy, Redmond's pathetic former girlfriend; Linda Fiorentino is Megan, a sad and bitchy flight attendant whom he meets on a train and believes to be his "angel"; James Woods is his "uncle" Sam, who gives him a bag of coke to deliver up in Queens (but he doesn't); and a Spuds McKenzie look-alike appears intermittently as a wacky canine pulling a grocery cart up and down the Lower East Side. Not content to give these indulgent roles only to good actors, director Matthew Harrison (Rhythm Thief) makes his own cameo appearance as "Luau Man."

Kicked in the Head (R; 87 min.), directed by Matthew Harrison, written by Kevin Corrigan and Harrison, photographed by Howard Krupa and John Thomas, and starring Corrigan, Michael Rapaport and Lili Taylor.

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