I take my fucking hat off to Chris Eyres and the people responsible for making "Smoke Signals." When I heard this movie was about American Indians, I thought, "Oh, Christ, here we go again." I thought they'd make some pissy movie that all the shithead yuppies at the "smart people" movie theaters would gobble up. You know what kind - the kind where the Indians sit around and talk about how the white man has fucked them a million times over. All the fucking bleeding heart liberals sit in the theater, nodding their fucking heads about how all the other white people are bad to Indians, and thinking they need to get themselves a "Free Leonard Peltier" bumper sticker to put beside "Free Tibet" on their God-damned SUVs.
Thank God, this isn't that kind of movie. It's about real, honest-Injun Indians. No shit. All of the stuff about living on a reservation and some Indians drinking too much is in the movie, but it isn't about those things. Those are the background.
Victor Joseph's father ran away from the Coeur d'Alene reservation in Idaho when he was just a fucking kid. Now, Victor is a pissed-off Indian in his 20s that doesn't give a piss about his father. That is, until his father dies in Butt Fuck Egypt, Arizona. Now Victor must go get the remains. The catch is that he doesn't have the money. In any other movie, a pissed-off Indian is gonna scalp some white guy for sure. But like I already said, if you had been paying any attention at all, this isn't that kind of movie.
Enter the reservation's biggest nerd, Thomas Builds a Fire, whom Victor can't stand because he talks too much and tells too many stories. Thomas has been saving his fucking pennies and dimes for years and he's got a whole mayonnaise jar full of them. It's just enough to get these two dopes to Butt Fuck Egypt and back. Victor just wants to get his pop's ashes and Thomas wants an adventure. So, Victor reluctantly agrees to letting Thomas tag along.
The whole way to Arizona, Victor bitches about life and his unfortunate fate. Thomas tells some amusing stories and they piss off a bunch of whities by turning John Wayne's teeth into a tribal chant on a Gray Line bus. Victor makes Thomas take off his trademark suit and wear a T-shirt that says "Frybread Power." Jesus, I'd give my left nut for that shirt. He tells him to "look like you just killed a buffalo." They get to Arizona and meet a really gorgeous gal that has both the prettiest smile I've ever seen and Victor's dad in some sort of tin can. She teaches Victor a thing or two about the goodness in his father, but she never lets us see her boobs.
When the boys start for home, Victor knows he's been wrong about his pappy, but he's being too much of a horse's ass to admit it. On the return journey, he finds himself in a situation very similar to the one that caused his father to get the hell off the reservation. Through it, Victor realizes that both life and his father were not as black and white as he thought. By the time he gets back to the reservation, he isn't nearly as pissed off as when he left.
"Smoke Signals" is no great shakes in a lot of places. Some of the flashbacks and the segues reek of a fancy-ass college student trying to wow the pretty girl in the film society. The resolution is a little too damn easy for my tastes. And the soundtrack is chock full of hippy-shit folk music that's full of phony sincerity. Also, the dialog tries to hard to smack us over the fucking noggin with its message in some places. It feels in many places like a rookie effort.
Still, it's pretty fucking nice to watch a movie where characters talk freely about Fry Bread. I could eat that shit all day. Throughout the whole movie, I felt like a fucking voyeur sneaking a peek at real Indians that weren't doing some candy-ass dance in headdress at the side of the Grand Canyon. I mean, I'm no genius about Indians, but the whole notion that they can be
And I really fucking cared about these two guys. Not because my forefathers stole all their shit, but because they were decent gys and amusing. When it works, the dialog is sharp and funny. And the way these Indians talk about themselves is a true revelation. Most of all, however, I was thrilled to know that those cats really eat frybread. I thought they just sold that shit at carnivals.
I give it a Pretty fucking good.