Murphy Dunn is a private detective who is hired by his former High School guidance counselor to find her middle-aged son who's gone missing. It seems like a straight forward case except for the fact that a rare vinyl record is the reason for her son's disappearance. The further Murphy investigates he begins to understand why when there seems to be a life-or-death struggle between musicians, fellow detectives and a record company who want to get their hands on this rare piece of music.
With the amount of noir based -- or neo-noir, rather -- movies that I've watched for the purposes of review, having Steve Hicks submit his film "Fuzz Track City" presented a nice change of pace by being a comedy film rather than horror or thriller. With an emphasis on music and having a rather interesting looking lead character, "Fuzz Track City" appeared to hold a lot of promise.
After the death of his partner, Murphy Dunn isn't sure what to do with his private detective business. That is until a woman from his past walks into the office. Murphy's old High School guidance counselor, Dawn Lockwood, is looking for her son who's gone missing. Nothing that should be shocking considering her son his 40 and still lives at home, but what makes the disappearance a mystery is it seems to be the result of her son coming across an incredibly rare vinyl record. Still, nothing too out of the ordinary but this one record now causes Murphy to be caught in the crossfire between new and old musicians, fellow detectives and a record company who all want to get their hands on it.What can be so special about the only existing copy of an EP from a band no one has heard of?
"Fuzz Track City" is an interesting creature because it had an affect on me that I didn't realize until I found myself watching it repeatedly. Initially when I watched it I didn't think much of it. It wasn't a bad movie by any means and, for the most part, I enjoyed myself. For some reason though, after that initial viewing I couldn't think of what I wanted to say about the movie when I sat down to review it. Thinking maybe I was distracted or lost my focus, I went in for another viewing. Again, sat down to write a review but decided to give the movie another go. You know, just to be sure I had a proper idea of what the movie was and what I thought about it.
Then it occurred to me that while I was telling myself I was re-watching the movie to make sure I had the right idea about it. The truth of the matter is that I was watching it, repeatedly, is because it was a fun and entertaining movie. Even though the comedy in it never made me laugh out loud, there was still this high quality entertainment to it that I kept finding myself drawn back to. There's no complexity to "Fuzz Track City", it is just a comedic noir movie with an infusion of a '70s rock and roll vibe.
That's kind of where the charm comes from. "Fuzz Track City" takes place in modern times but it carries a look and style straight from a '70s cop show or movie. It never feels forced or feels like a "throwback". Steve Hicks appears to effortlessly and seamlessly recreates that tone and that look for "Fuzz Track City". Something that is even reflected in the character of Murphy Dunn; a man who feels like he's living in the wrong decade. There's something amusing about watching this character who is stuck in a time that he's not necessarily from (he doesn't appear old enough to be obsessed over the decade he likes to think he resides in) and is being forced to become more modern.
That's one of those little quirks the movie has that adds to that overall appeal. Steve Hicks wrote an excellent script but Todd Robert Anderson as Murphy Dunn helps to sell that appeal. Part of me wants to compare the movie to "The Big Lebowski" in some ways but that would feel like a disservice. Although why that movie works is why "Fuzz Track City" works as well; Murphy Dunn may not be the best at what he does but there's something about that character we're drawn to. Almost gruff in nature, you can't help but root for Murphy. Whether he's having a confrontation with his competition in the form of two scumbag detectives, or dealing with psychotic musicians. You want to see Murphy come out on top, even though he usually doesn't.
Again, part of that comes from Todd Robert Anderson and his performance, but also because of clever and intelligent writing from Steve Hicks. I'm glad this movie managed to keep bringing me back to it because in that initial viewing I didn't realize exactly how clever the script was. I thought it was merely about a detective with some rather bad-luck getting caught up in a case involving a wannabe musician trying to protect an image he had created. With each twist and turn of the story and how Murphy discovers that there's more to the case than a sought after record. "Fuzz Track City" does an amazing job of highlighting the ludicrous nature of the music business. They say it's a cut-throat business and in Steve Hicks' movie, it becomes quiet literally that. What's great about the satire in "Fuzz Track City" is that it's not heavy-handed about it and it's not the focus of the movie. Yet it speaks highly about music and what it means to an artist and the substantial difference that exists now with the commercialization of music.
"Fuzz Track City" may not have had me rolling on the floor but it has a subtle brilliance to both the comedy and the story. It has such a mild-mannered presence that it could feel like it's lacking something but it's that subtlety that pushes the movie forward. It's very easy to go back to again and again and have it still be highly entertaining and enjoyable -- I know, I've watched about half a dozen times already and enjoyed it equally each time. Actually, I probably enjoyed it more with each viewing by finding more to appreciate about "Fuzz Track City". Steve Hicks managed to take the structure and tropes of a noir movie, drop them into a '70s detective show but present it as a modern movie. There's not much else to say; "Fuzz Track City" is a seemingly casual viewing experience that provides to be great entertainment.