Paul Rudd Helps Rescue the ’70s From Ford-era Kitsch in Diggers

Siblings Rudd and Maura Tierney stumble into adulthood.

A death in the family forces Hunt (Paul Rudd), a Long Island clam digger, to face up to his becalmed existence in Katherine Dieckmann’s terrific movie about a dying way of life. The Ford-Carter debates simmer quietly in the background, but Dieckmann doesn’t snow us with ’70s symbolism. This very particular movie has a lyrical feel for place, period, and the rhythms of a small-town community trying—and tragicomically failing—to run in place while the world around it opens its arms to creeping corporatism. Rudd is sweet and funny; Ron Eldard and Josh Hamilton are great as the town’s aimless stud muffin and philosophizing pothead, respectively. But the movie belongs to Ken Marino, who is riotously funny as the family man whose anger-management problem at last finds a fitting target in the big businessmen who come to destroy his living. Marino also wrote the outstanding script, which traps the foul-mouthed vitality of working-class speech in a bottle and makes it sing. Diggers is not a film you watch—it’s a movie you live in, and when time’s up, you feel the same sense of loss as do these guys, who realize they have no choice but to move on.

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