STELLA’S LAST WEEKEND

STELLA’S LAST WEEKEND

(director: Polly Draper; cinematographer: David Kimelman; editor: Frank Reynolds; cast: Nat Wolff (Jack), Alex Wolff (Oliver), Polly Draper (Sally), Paulina Singer (Violet), Nick Sandow (Ron), Leo Heller (Shark Boy), Julia Macchio (Caitlin), Julia Abueva (Cassandra), Lisa Darden (Glinda); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Polly Draper/Caron Rudner/Ken H. Keller; Related Pictures/Paladin; 2018)

An almost bearable indie slice of life dramedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An almost bearable indie slice of life dramedy written and directed by actress-turned-filmmaker Polly Draper (“The Naked Brothers Band: The Movie”), that left me less than thrilled with its sassy teenage sitcom wit. The title is derived from the name of a beloved dying pet dog on her last weekend.

The narrative revolves around the challenge of brotherly love.Jack (Nat Wolff) returns home from college to pay respects to Stella, his aging sick pet dog who will be euthanized over the weekend and is given a party as a celebration rite with the neighborhood dogs invited to party with Stella for one last time. While on the subway Jack sees Violet (Paulina Singer), a girl he fell for at a party but who never would call him back for a date. When at home, he’s surprised when his younger high school student brother Oliver (Alex Wolff, real-life brothers) introduces to his family the same Violet as his new girlfriend. Later Jack and Violet meet at a party and they clear up the misunderstanding that led to the rejection (a false rumor about him), and the dancer tells him she still cares for him. While Jack’s home, his return rekindles the old wounds between the rival brothers. Their kind but clueless still grieving widowed mom Sally (Polly Draper, director-writer and also the film brothers real-life mom) and her new square boyfriend Ron (Nick Sandow) must awkwardly endure some rowdy immature jokes about them from the nasty boys. We’re left wondering how things will work out for the boys with the flighty Violet and with their relationship, while the narrative resonates with the difficulty of a single mom raising on her own robust teenage boys who seem lost without a father at home. The problem was the film didn’t know how to script the final act without it seeming like just another Hollywood banal life changing romantic/comedy. Though it has many sweet and funny moments and dog lovers might lap it up more than single moms struggling to keep a family together will, it gets put down in the end by its own aging process and refusing to live up to its brash premise by going mushy.

Nat Wolff and Alex Wolff in Stella's Last Weekend (2018)

REVIEWED ON 10/25/2018 GRADE: C+    https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/