American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
The two brothers who are the heroes of Kevin Jordan's "Smiling Fish and Goat on Fire" are not Native Americans, but their grandmother was half Indian, and she nicknamed them--Tony is Smiling Fish because he floats in the current, grinning, waiting for the world to drift his way. Chris is Goat on Fire because he wants to get everything exactly right. Chris is an accountant and Tony is an actor, which is the Los Angeles word for unemployed.
In their 20s, they live in the cozy bungalow left them by their parents (whose marriage had an L.A.-style entrance and exit; they met on the Universal Studios tour and died in a traffic accident). Tony and Chris both have girlfriends, but we sense that one relationship is dying and the other looks ominous since the girl cries a lot during sex. And then their lives take a turn for the better with the introduction of two women, a 6-year-old girl, a 90-year-old man, and a chicken named Bob.
Chris (Derick Martini) meets Anna (Rosemarie Addeo), an Italian who works on movies as an animal wrangler. Bob is her chicken. Tony meets his postal carrier, Kathy (Christa Miller), who is from Wyoming and has moved to L.A. in hopes that her daughter Nicole (Heather Jae Marie) will find work as a child actress. Kathy's heart is more or less stolen by Tony when he silences the squeaking wheel on her mail cart with olive oil.
Our hearts, meanwhile, are warmed by the introduction of a character named Clive (Bill Henderson), who is the 90-year-old uncle of Chris' boss. The boss asks Chris to give Clive a ride to work, and Clive turns out to be a bottomless well of entertainment and wisdom for Chris and Tony, and for us.