Leaves of Grass Leaves of Grass is a stoner drug comedy and a violent crime drama. It's an erudite exploration of classical philosophy and literature, and an authoritative… R PT105MINS. Comedy Edward Norton Richard Dreyfuss Susan Sarandon First Look
Movie Review

Leaves of Grass

MPAA Rating: R
Edward Norton, Leaves of Grass | DOUBLE DUTY Edward Norton portrays identical twins in Leaves of Grass , which is both a stoner comedy and violent crime drama.
Image credit: Glen Wilson
DOUBLE DUTY Edward Norton portrays identical twins in Leaves of Grass, which is both a stoner comedy and violent crime drama.

Details Rated: R; Length: 105 mins.; Genre: Comedy; With: Edward Norton; Distributor: First Look

Leaves of Grass is a stoner drug comedy and a violent crime drama. It's an erudite exploration of classical philosophy and literature, and an authoritative report on being Jewish in Oklahoma. It's also an opportunity for Edward Norton to play identical twins — an Ivy League classics professor named Bill and a tattooed Oklahoma drug dealer named Brady. Written like a picaresque novel by O Brother, Where Art Thou?'s Tim Blake Nelson — he also directs and costars as Brady's sidekick — the movie bubbles with intellectual curiosity and narrative ambition.

And for that I dig it, even if Leaves of Grass has the habit of swerving and sometimes lurching from tone to tone. You don't have to squint hard to see the influence of Joel and Ethan Coen on both the film's content and its bemused-in-the-heartland visual style (the brothers are the first ones thanked in the credits). But Nelson — who, not coincidentally, grew up Jewish in Oklahoma and studied classics at Brown University — has a menschy generosity. The scenes between the academic brother (Norton does lovely work juggling his two roles) and Keri Russell as an Oklahoma teacher-poet (no cartoon Okie, she) are sweet with romance. And the work of a rabbi has rarely been shown in a warmer light than the one the director shines on his own wife, Lisa Benavides, in the spiritual role. B+

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Originally posted Mar 30, 2010 Published in issue #1097 Apr 09, 2010 Order article reprints
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