A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
Imagine the town in "The Last Picture Show" after 30 more years of shrinking and loneliness, and you'd have the town in "Desert Blue." Both movies are about teenage friends with not much to do, but the kids in "Desert Blue" are more resigned; there's a kind of sweet sadness to their exile--all except for Ely (Christina Ricci), who entertains herself by blowing things up.
Baxter, Calif. ("population 89," according to the shot-up sign outside town), is known for one thing: the world's largest ice cream cone, a forlorn structure that sits in the desert like a god on Easter Island. The cone was built by the late father of Blue (Brendan Sexton III). At the time of his suicide, the father was working on a water park, but then the Empire Cola company grabbed all the water, and now the park is just a shabby relic of water slides, picnic tables and rowboats with no place to float.
Into this town one day comes a professor of roadside culture (John Heard), who wants to research the ice cream cone. He's traveling with his daughter Skye (Kate Hudson), a TV starlet who has an audition tomorrow in Los Angeles. A truck overturns outside town, spilling the secret ingredient of Empire Cola (or whatever it is they really manufacture in that sinister plant outside town), and the authorities throw up roadblocks. Skye and her dad are trapped in the town. He welcomes the chance to research rural culture. She's a snob and thinks the local kids are hayseeds.
They're not. Most of them plan to leave Baxter (Ricci plans to do it by blowing herself up), but in the meantime they enjoy one another's company. They're gentle with one another, as if they deserve a certain pity just because they live here, and "Desert Blue," in its sweet, unaffected way, succeeds in making a convincing film about eccentrics without their performances obstructing the view.
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