(director:Valerie Weiss; screenwriter: Stacey Menear; cinematographer: Matthew Clark; editor: William Steinkamp; music:Tamar-kali; cast: Gemma Brooke Allen(Beverly), Julie Bowen (Gail), Audrey Hsieh (Ellen), Olga Petsa (Nicky), Jackson Rathbone (Wes Kelly), Diego Mercado (Steven) Nick Thune (Anti); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producers; Gil Netter, Jim Wedaa: Netflix; 2021)
“I realize there’s a target audience for such a sweet family tale, but I’m not in that target range.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The cheesy family friendly dramedy Mixtape is pleasantly directed by Valerie Weiss(“The Archer”/”Losing Control”) and is written with charm by Stacey Menear. There’s nothing in it that is offensive or has an edge or seems odd.
It’s set in 1999 Spokane. The cutie-pie twelve-year-old Beverly Moody (Gemma Brooke Allen, a winning spunky performance) accidentally destroys the cassette mixtape belonging to her deceased mother, a mother she never knew. Beverly is determined to find every song on the tape no matter what it takes to recover the songs from the 90s (a time before cell phones and computers, and with a paranoid concern over a possible Y2K glitch to bring in the century).
I realize there’s a target audience for such a sweet family tale, but I’m not in that target range.
As the loner and socially awkward Beverly does her searching, she makes contact with the funky, cynical and jaded record-store owner Anti (Nick Thune) for much help and gets more help from kids in her age group–in the surly Nicky (Olga Petsa) and her new dorky and bubbly Taiwanese friend, Ellen (Audrey Hsieh).
Beverley’s nice grandmother Gail (Julie Bowen), a postal worker, still grief-stricken over the loss, raised her when her parents died in a car accident when she was just 2.
The search for the songs morphs into Beverly’s search for her family roots, as she’s using the music to learn more about her deceased ‘rocker’ parents. As the obscure songs are discovered and played, the film gives us the most thrills.
Mixtape rocks with nostalgia and a cloying look back to the past to tell its endearing old-fashioned story, a film tailor-made for those who want to see a well-made feel-good pic, with well-developed characters.
Here’s a list of the songs on the broken cassette titled “New Beginnings”:
- Getting Nowhere Fast, by Girls at our Best
- Linda Linda, by The BlueHearts
- Better Things, by The Kinks
- I Got a Right, by The Stooges
- Teacher’s Pet, by The Quick
- “The song that reminded Kim of the day she met Zack on the hill for their first date.”
- Crash Right Through, by the Murderous Ambersons
- The Wrong Song, by Beverly’s musical Parents, Kim & Zack
REVIEWED ON 12/8/2021 GRADE: B-