The reason films like Diner and (to a lesser extent) Dazed and Confused work is that we’re with likable characters. The group we’re with for 90 minutes here offers a minimum of redeemability (though what works does so remarkably). There’s Cons (Josh Hamilton), whose thrills hardly exceed smoking pot and watching TV, and it’s safe to assume Jack (Ron Eldard) only bought a pickup truck for a steady stream of blowjobs from strangers. Frankie (screenwriter Ken Marino) is married, but that doesn’t stop him from acting younger than his four children--not to short-change his character too much, because Marino seems to have written himself the only other developed lead. The other is Hunt (Paul Rudd, pushing his range past comedic sidekick), who tries to fill the boots of his deceased father to protect his older sister (Maura Tierney) from Jack.
Marino’s screenplay (brought to occasional life by director Dieckmann) offers a number of offbeat laughs, like when Rudd’s Hunt sets his father’s urn on a pool table ledge to play doubles. Or when Hunt is lambasted for approaching Zoey, the girl on the dock, who much prefers their flirtation from a distance. And what’s a coming-of-age film without the blossoming awkward relationship? Diggers’ is supplied by Zoey (Six Feet Under alum Lauren Ambrose) and Hunt, which harvests an unlikely sweetness for the film.
Diggers, despite being set during the mid-‘70s (don’t worry, there’s a solid Jaws reference), never really takes advantage of its soundtrack like other reminiscent films, ala the aforementioned Diner and Dazed and Confused, which were laced with songs of the era; Dion & the Belmonts and Peter Frampton, respectively. The best song these guys listen to is by Lee Michaels, because apparently Long Island is void of Foghat records. Though, in a way, it’s far better to have a ‘70s-set film that ignores its era’s tunes than a modern coming-of-age with those dreadful Shins bannered across the movie like they were ever in style.
But, if anything, Diggers at least feels real, even if it does hit every coming-of-age mark that you’ve ever seen. It’s a story of growth, even if there isn’t much of it. If there’s one thing to be admired about Diggers, it’s at least refreshing in the indie-sense, never relying on your overplayed Sundancin’ quirky characters…instead, just simple ones you may get bored of.
Higher Definition: Diggers Episode (28:21) is an interview with Dieckmann and Marion, conducted by Robert Wilonsky. The twosome again offers great chemistry with each other (and many stories) as they field the journalist’s bland questions. Just one from me: could this guy come off as any more of an amateur?
“Baymen” (56:31): Yawn…this feature-length documentary on real-life clam-diggers doesn’t belong on this disc; it’s too boring, and even if you loved Diggers, you probably won’t be too thrilled by this. A complete waste of disc space.
Deleted Scenes/Outtakes with optional Commentary (31:04): While these 18 scenes were cut down for smart reasons and not just time, some are worth it, particularly the ones that flesh out the characters more (Hunt’s panic attacks, which are discussed in the commentary, are featured).