“Marble or wood?”
I often wondered, after seeing “Reno 911” and the other TV/movies done by the Michael Ian Black part of MTV’s “The State,” what had happened to Ken Marino? Sure he was in a couple bit parts with “Reno,” but never a regular with any of the future endeavors by his old comedy troupe. Thanks to HDNet Films, Marino has been brought into the film world with his writing debut Diggers. This film is a drama to its core, yet also one of the funniest movies I have seen in a while. It’s good to see that my old MTV comedians are all seeing some sort of success today.
Diggers is a tale of a small clamming community on Long Island. Like most working class towns, the people all know each other from school days and just growing up in close proximity with parents of similar occupation. A huge conglomerate has come to town, restricted the best clam areas, and taken away much of the towns financial opportunities. Some have defected and sold out to earn money for their families, however, the diehard diggers at the forefront of this tale refuse to give in. They go out there and work for what little they can to scrap by and support their loved ones. Our main conduit into the story is Hunt, played perfectly by the always great Paul Rudd. He is a dreamer, taking photos wherever he goes, but still does his clam digging, meeting up with his father later in the day after sleeping in first. This day changes everything, though, as Hunt’s father dies on the water. Everyone comes together for the funeral and you start to see a change for this group of friends and how they will continue their lives.
Rudd has the right mix of sarcasm and protective mindset for those he loves along with bottled up emotions just waiting to be let out. Diggers is at its core a story of how he finally looks at his life and decides to do what he wants; first though, he needs to accept himself and deal with the tragedy that has followed his life to this point. His mother always wanted to take him to the city when he got older, but she never got the chance. Maybe through the course of events in this film, he can finally get the courage to see what is out there for him.
Rudd is not the only shining spot in the movie. This is a great cast of “those guy” actors. Maura Tierney is effective as Hunt’s sister, coping with the loss of her father and a burgeoning relationship with an odd choice for a suitor; Lauren Ambrose is fun as the city girl on vacation, “silent flirting” with Rudd until he ruins the façade; Ron Eldard shows his comedic worth as he always does in small roles; and Sarah Paulson plays the mother of five with love and compassion, but also an edge to counteract the verbal tirades of her husband. That husband steals every scene, and is played by our writer, Ken Marino. The scene that introduces his character in the bathroom is priceless. You have to give him credit for writing the role for himself so effectively—the hypocritical speech, swearing in front of his kids yet jumping at them when they swear is hilarious, and the verbal wars with his wife, always ending in a smile, are fantastic. Anytime a father can yell at his kids to go outside and play as punishment, and have it work, I’m totally with that role waiting anxiously for what he may do next…like sending them outside in the rain to finish their breakfast.
Overall Diggers is a wonderful little gem to enjoy. The laughs are big, but they surround a story that is really about friendship and family and the love necessary to work through it all. If nothing else, Marino infused his script with plenty of heart and you are with these crazy people from the start, experiencing how one tragedy can open their eyes and change their courses for the future. I can’t wait now to see his follow-up The Ten.
Diggers 8/10 | ★ ★ ★
 Ken Marino, Josh Hamilton, Ron Eldard, and Paul Rudd in DIGGERS, a Magnolia Pictures Release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
 Lauren Ambrose and Paul Rudd in DIGGERS, a Magnolia Pictures Release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.