(director: Anna Mastro; screenwriter: Paul Shoulberg; cinematographer: Steve Calitri;; editor: Kristin McCasey; music: Dan Romer; cast: Andrew J. West (Walter Gary Benjamin), Justin Kirk (Greg), Virginia Madsen (Karen Benjamin), William H. Macy (Dr. Corman), Milo Ventimiglia (Vince), Neve Campbell (Allie), Peter Facinelli (Jim Benjamin), Leven Rambin (Kendall), Jim Gaffigan (Corey); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Mark Holder, Christine Holder, Brenden Patrick Hill, Ryan Harris. Benito Mueller; Entertainment One Films; 2015)
“I found it too much of a reach to go with this absurd conceit and was immediately turned off.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A gentle but quirky indie dramedy that falls flat on its face, even when it tries to straighten the mess it created in the final act. First-time helmer Anna Mastro and writer Paul Shoulberg weave a fantasy story about a small town sad-sack movie ticket taker named Walter Gary Benjamin (Andrew J. West). He believes he’s the son of God (but not Jesus) put on Earth to make judgments of who goes to heaven or hell. The mild mannered young man, living at home with his widowed mom (Virginia Madsen), calls out to himself the after-life destination of each movie-goer whose ticket he takes. I found it too much of a reach to go with this absurd conceit and was immediately turned off. Aside from being a strange viewing, it has little going for it.
Walter mundanely goes through his daily routines. We observe how he must deal with his obnoxious co-worker Vince (Milo Ventimiglia) and is flustered over the crush he has on the pretty candy-seller Kendall (Leven Rambin). Things get heavy when he must deal with a sad ghost named Greg (Justin Kirk), who is a suicide stuck in the in-between world and demands Walter tell him his destination. Meanwhile his mom seems to have gone bonkers cooking only eggs for their meals.
The comic relief comes in his sessions with his cynical new therapist (William H. Macy), who calls him out on how crazy he must be.
Things get resolved when the mystery involving a local nurse (Neve Campbell) with Walter’s dead fireman dad (Peter Facinelli) is made clearer.
The one-joke premise goes nowhere. The empty scenic shots of the movie lobby, Walter’s long walks to the city bus and the wedding ceremony in the church, seem to reflect on the film’s own emptiness and its short story being undeveloped.
REVIEWED ON 5/27/2017 GRADE: C