Welcome to Grand Theft Parsons' official movie website.
Grand Theft Parsons stars Johnny Knoxville, Christina Applegate and Robert Forster. Having screened to great acclaim at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and a successful release in cinemas, the film is now available on DVD in North America and the UK and Ireland.
The film is based on a true story about friendship; the kind of friendship that saw one man break the law, jeopardise his freedom and race hundreds of miles, to see to it that in death his friend's wishes were honoured. It's inspired by the true story that marked the end of the life of cult musician Gram Parsons, and will hopefully go some way to bringing the legacy of Parsons' music to a whole new generation.
The film centres around Phil Kaufman (played by Johnny Knoxville in his first dramatic leading role), road manager to Gram Parsons, who stole his friend's body and drove it to Joshua Tree National Park. Remaining faithful to a pact they had made two months previously, he gave Parsons the last rites he'd requested - a cremation in the desert he'd loved.
The film was shot in the lightning-quick time of 24 days using authentic locations in California. The production was granted permission to film in LAX where the body was actually stolen, as well as the Joshua Tree National Park where the cremation took place. In the movie, Knoxville wears the road manager's actual denim jacket he had worn when committing the bodysnatching, and Knoxville rides the road manager's actual Harley trike.
Grand Theft Parsons features a blistering soundtrack that includes Bruce Springsteen, Starsailor, Primal Scream and of course, the duets between Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. The soundtrack album is now available on Cube Soundtracks. Check out the trailer, the director's photo diary, exclusive film clips, and an exclusive interview with Johnny Knoxville. You'll also find exclusive behind the scenes footage of the coffin burning scene that almost turned the desert into an inferno.
What the critics say
A cult film in the making.
...Knoxville is a revelation as a proper actor. Throw in a great soundtrack and some great one-liners, and you have the best loosely-based-on-a-rock-star film since the Doors. A great low-budget buddy movie. Even if one of the buddies spends the entire film being dead.
...plays like 'A Weekend at Bernie's' crossed with 'Cannonball Run'.
A lovely cult movie - see it while you can!
The Jackass joker calms down for this wryly funny true-life tale about the friends who kidnap the corpse of deceased country singer Gram Parsons to carry out his burial wishes. A quirky charmer.
...as good as it gets.
The most anticipated movie for music fans at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
A cracking, full-throttle road movie, laced with wit and wisdom and starring a rocker, a hippy, a corpse and a hearse.
...a truly funny film, right out of the top drawer ...it's a mark of this movie's tremendous charm that, as the flames rise towards the sky, the ending seems gloriously happy.
Parsons had made a pact with close friend and associate Phil Kaufman, ensuring that if either one of them died young, the other would sidestep the usual funeral rituals and cremate the corpse in the pair's beloved Californian desert. Though Parsons' relatives had more orthodox plans, Kaufman did what he had promised, stealing his friend's body from LA airport, transporting it to the required location, and then drunkenly torching it. In line with the family's original plans, the bodily scraps recovered from the ashes were transported to New Orleans. So it was that Parsons effectively ended up with two tombstones.
Much of this - embellished by plenty of fictional conceits - is chronicled in a new film called Grand Theft Parsons, a micro-budget caper movie that puts Johnny 'Jackass' Knoxville in the role of Phil Kaufman. What it lacks in locations and big league cast members, it makes up for in a pleasing emphasis on simple friendship and the human warmth that lay at the heart of the 60's counterculture. It is also clever enough to take up the story in the wake of Parsons' death, thus avoiding the trap of having to portray him convincingly. It will doubtless push Parsons beyond the high-end cultishness that currently defines his popularity.
...weird and wonderful...
'Grand Theft Parsons' is a goofy, easygoing ride most of the way, yet it proves unexpectedly touching once all the characters involved in the fate of this one prized stiff arrive at the same spot and must agree among themselves what to do with it, to honor Gram's wishes or their own. And it doesn't hurt that the man who plays Parsons in life and in death is Gabriel Macht, who looks uncannily like The Man Himself. Top it off with a cameo by the real-life Phil Kaufman, and you've got a rock'n'roll road movie like no other. Wherever he is, Gram should get a kick out of it.
This wacky tale of rock'n'roll undertakers has a big heart. The most fun you'll ever have watching a coffin burn.
Wittily scripted and lovingly directed, the film skilfully balances irreverence and sentiment. With a strong soundtrack providing additional flavour, it's a full-bodied tribute to human loyalty that's destined for cult status.
...charming and very watchable.
Grand Theft Parsons comes highly recommended
...beautifully good-spirited movie about friendship and obligations it brings, shot through with an appreciation of the human warmth that ran through the Love'n'peace generation. And yes, it's commendably funny - thought not in the way that the presence of Johnny 'Jackass' Knoxville might suggest. Far from being some gonzo schlock-out, Its humour is affectionate, understated, and often beautifully delivered.
Grand Theft Parsons is touching and hilarious in equal measure.
The International Federation of Film Critics
Noble and gentle in a way movies are not supposed to be anymore.
Good-natured and whacked-out enough to be a fitting tribute to its hero.
News of the World
This is a real gem - a joy to watch. The pace never slackens, leaving you chuckling along from start to finish.
...one remove from brilliant.
...an unexpectedly lovely little film that is quite possibly destined for Future Cult Movie status. It’s funny and moving and has a superb soundtrack as well as sweet performances from its cast.
It's brilliant rock'n'roll mayhem with excellent performances all round.
Dazed & Confused
A funny, slapstick movie about a hippy, a roadie, a dead country singer and his money-grabbing ex-girlfriend.
...entertaining, energetic and sometimes tender.
The Sunday Times
A stolen coffin, a burning body: a low-budget gem of a film highlights the genius of Gram Parsons, country rock’s inventor...
...a wonderfully funny film that has some deft emotional resonances (namely to do with loyalty) and a sprinkling of laugh-out-loud moments that will pop into your head for days after it has finished....a hugely uplifting affair that leaves the audience with a broad smile and hopefully will benefit from the positive word-of-mouth it deserves.
Knoxville turns in one of the most impressive small-screen crossovers in years!
David Caffrey’s film of an extraordinary but true rock legend is, on the surface, a nicely mischievous black-comedy caper. Hiring a bright yellow hearse from a lily-livered hippie named Larry who insists on driving the vehicle himself (Michael Shannon, looking like a member of Polyphonic Spree), Kaufman steals the corpse and sets off with Larry towards Joshua Tree National Park, chased by Parsons Snr (Robert Forster) and Gram’s (fictional) gold-digging ex-girlfriend Barbara (Christina Applegate, in terrifically tart form). At times it’s not far from Smokey And The Bandit territory, as Kaufman escapes from cops, evades his pursuers and tries to stop Larry from constantly crashing the hearse.
At the film’s heart, though, is a hymn to friendship and the heroism of a man keeping his word (for some reason this story always works best with men; the more dissolute and unreliable in everyday life, the better). Balancing the two halves is Johnny Knoxville in a revelatory performance as Kaufman, born to the role of a party animal turned caring, adult compadre.
Grand Theft is a rather flippant tribute to Parsons: aside from a few songs of his on the soundtrack, the film is barely even about him, and won’t win him many new fans other than by simple name-dropping. As a universal fable about grand, reckless gestures and unbreakable bonds, though – and as a very funny road movie – it’s a minor triumph.
Shadows on the Wall
Enjoyably funny and surprisingly moving...Knoxville is excellent in his first leading role, creating an authentic hangdog character we can root for against the odds. Meanwhile, Applegate plays another memorably personality-intensive woman, while Shannon has a delightful floppy presence that feels like the result of years of substance abuse. And Forster even manages to inject some depth into his simple role, as do all the one-scene players. While the whole film meanders, each little detail crackles with life. As a result, this extraordinary story takes on an extra level of meaning as a down-to-earth fable about loyalty. A very nice surprise.