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Sasquatch antics crawl slowly

          Like millions of kids, the brothers David Zellner and Nathan Zellner grew up fascinated by legends of Bigfoot, immortalized with a minute long starring role in one famous strip of film and as the title character for Harry and the Hendersons.  Unlike many Bigfoot aficionados, the brothers turned this

passion into their own movie, Sasquatch Sunset, an odd variation on a Disney Nature approach to animal documentaries. Variation because, well first of all, it’s not a documentary but instead features well-known actors disguised as the title creatures whose existence remains a matter of debate. No bouncy narration explains events; for that matter characters utter no dialogue at all. On top of that, action includes a variety of behaviors Disney editors would immediately slice like rough sex and territorial marking with urine and feces. Disney censors would probably disguise the fact that Sasquatches walk around naked and MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) adjudicators put an R-rating on the film. While R for Sasquatch nudity almost seems like a joke, it sends a message that the movie features adult sensibilities rather than family friendly fun. Like that R-rating, Sasquatch Sunset often feels like a joke, spending a lot of time and money on whimsical imaginings that might contain truths should Bigfeet really exist. That time and money comes from top-notch production values. Expensive, complicated prosthetics and furry costumes cover respected actors like Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) and Riley Keough (Zola), who seem to truly enjoy the challenge of expressing themselves physically through gestures and larger movements. Christophe Zajak-Denek and co-director Nathan Zellner round out the cast, along with a supply of wildlife straight from a warm Disney project.  Elk, a badger, a racoon, and even a cuddly skunk show up, none threatened by the mostly vegetarian Sasquatches. An exception in dining habits comes when one munches on a banana slug, a large yellow gastropod that slimes its way through redwood forests. The scene reminded me of my days as a student at nearby Humboldt State where dorm pranks included making dishes like sluggheti. The movie also brings back memories of the tranquil beauty and magnificence of those redwood forests, glowing with cinematography by Mike Geoulakis, whose excellent work includes the horror favorite It Follows. For all the skill and talent shown in production, Sasquatch Sunset never overcomes its main challenge, keeping mundane action thrilling for its nearly hour-and-a-half length. The tactic runs its course more slowly than a banana slug.

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