Pulpy dross of surpassing dumbness, “Charlie Countryman” takes the blender approach to mixing dark adventure, doofus comedy and pie-eyed romance, but forgets to put the lid on when pulsed.
Scruffy emo-puppy Shia LaBeouf plays the title role, a young Chicagoan who hightails it to Bucharest after the death of his mother (Melissa Leo) and gets mixed up with Evan Rachel Wood’s smoky-eyed, tough-girl cellist Gabi and her psychotic criminal husband Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen).
The film starts with the thuddingly whimsical, showing us that Charlie can talk to the dead. But that device is dropped like ineffective meds when he starts aggressively wooing Gabi, with LaBeouf uneasily mixing jacked-up flirtiness with moony self-pity. He then gets caught up in a clichéd underworld of crudely unfunny drug tourists (poor, poor post-"Harry Potter” Rupert Grint) and clichéd mobsters whose first instinct is to communicate with explosive violence. (Mikkelsen is, as usual, effortlessly scary.)
Director Fredrik Bond will likely join Eli Roth (“Hostel”) on any Eastern European tourism board’s enemies list, while screenwriter Matt Drake desperately needs a Tarantino cleanse.
“Charlie Countryman” is slickly made, but its unfocused pop culture expressivism has a lingering side effect of emptiness — it’s so earnest about being grand and gritty in equal measure it fails at both.
“Charlie Countryman.” MPAA rating: R for some brutal violence, language throughout, sexuality/nudity and drug use. Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes. At AMC Burbank 8.