(And my apologies that my first independent film review happens to be a negative one.)

While I did not enjoy this film, it clearly satisfies the American audience’s current hunger for films featuring underdogs, anti-heroes, and the victim-as-hero narrative.

Although Bill Murray’s performance was stellar, I found the characters unimaginative and the storyline predictable. The tropes, stereotypical: a single mom, a grumpy old man, a good hearted stripper/prostitute, and a vulnerable boy an absent father. I would offer that the audience knew exactly what was going to happen, namely that a band of outsiders and misfits would eventually come together to support one another as a family.

These types of films are so well received by audiences because they tap into America’s current emotional climate of insecurity and vulnerability during this economic downturn.  Moviegoers are then rewarded and comforted with a happy ending and assurances that everything will work in the end. The primary difference from this type of independent film and traditional Hollywood scripts being that it’s not the hero who saves the day, it’s the everyman, the underdog, who rises to the occasion.

That said, different genres fulfill different needs for varying audiences. I would categorize this as an indie feel good film with some great performances. (Also, a nod to Naomi Watts who delivered an adorable comedic performance.) While not necessarily challenging viewers, I believe the film succeeded in meeting the goal of validating and comforting the audience at large. The visual style was pleasantly unpolished and unpretentious and therefore came off as more authentic than the typical Hollywood rom-com.

★★ 2/5 stars (Admittedly this is not my preferred genre of film.)

Photo by Atsushi Nishijima – © 2014 The Weinstein Company.st-vincent-image-bill-murray-jaeden-ieberher

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