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Cash Crop

If Steven Soderbergh's Traffic had starred teen hearthrob James Van Der Beek in the role that won an Oscar for Benicio Del Toro, the resulting film still would have been a heady bong-hit more satisfying than this underachieving attempt to depict a quieter, more desparate side to the War on Drugs. Van Der Beek, despite his doe-eyed cranium plastered front and center on this DVD's packaging, plays only a minor role in Cash Crop, as the heavily refeered pal to Andy (Will Horneff), a moody midwestern teen aching to leave his family's stagnant farm in the dry brown dust — or is that aromatic green dust? When a DEA agent (Mary McCormack) starts poking around town, it's revealed that Andy's straightlaced folks have been growing secret reserves of ganja to make ends meet. While this sounds like the stuff of raucous comedy, director Stuart Burkin plays it straight, and if only he and co-screenwriters Jim Biederman and David M. Korn could've found an interesting story within their concept, they might have had something worth talking about. As it is, the narrative fumbles toward nothing, with its only diversion a terrific low-key turn by utility actor John Slattery (veteran of several TV guest spots and movie bit parts, including a small role in Traffic) as the local sheriff, caught uneasily between his loyalties to the law and his community. Released theatrically (or so they say) as Harvest. Presented in a poorly defined full-frame transfer (1.33:1), with muddy audio in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround. Commentary track with Burkin and Slattery, deleted scenes, photo gallery, trailer. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr



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