'Raising Hope' is where the heart is

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Pool maintenance dude Lucas Neff would like to make something of himself, unlike the downscale Southwest parents (Martha Plimpton, Garret Dillahunt) and looney-tune grandma (Cloris Leachman) with whom he lives.

Dude gets his chance when a crazed one-night stand with a felon results in a baby he's determined to raise: "I'm sick of people looking at me like I don't have a purpose. This is my chance to do something good."

MY SAY

"Raising Hope" has heart to go along with its trashy-nutso comedy - just like "My Name Is Earl," the previous creation from Greg Garcia, who seems to be forging his own genre of shabby-chic. Garcia's got a feel for working-class (or maybe not-working-class) life, and also a demented sense of humor that's truly good-natured. Not many comedy writers can bring a car to a screeching stop with a non-tethered infant hurtling inside, and get from it not only a huge laugh but instant audience forgiveness, too.

Garcia's single-camera editing amplifies the comedy inherent, rather than being a crutch to create it. And the casting here is as good as "Earl," which is saying something - even if Leachman goes a bit off the rails as wacked-out "mamaw."

BOTTOM LINE

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"Raising Hope" certainly raises hope for the future of single-camera comedy.

GRADE

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