Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Our Very Own. Out today. Small town life is boring (****4/10)

Our very own is a movie that comes out today courtesy of Alliance Films. It stars some young up-and-coming stars, and it’s set in a small town in the 70s. It’s not much of a town, and unfortunately it’s not much of a movie. This is the kind of small town where everyone knows everyone, and the only thing for teenagers to do on a Saturday night is get in a car and drive around, gossiping. These kids go to Nashville for a really big night out, and you think they are going to take in a show, or hit a bar, but their idea of excitement is sneaking into a hotel and riding the elevators. There are cartoon bullies who harass the good kids, there is a greasy spoon diner where everyone hangs out, and every family has their issues. In short, it’s the same small town that has been used in every movie since Bonnie and Clyde and Badlands and The Outsiders. It is the ultimate Small Town U.S.A.

Which is irritating, on the surface, because we’ve seen it so many times before. We have seen hundreds of films set in this very same small town with these very same characters. But in the end, it is a decent fit, because the main thrust of the movie requires the town to be this small and this boring and this predictable. You see, that small town is Shelbyville, Tennessee, the home town of Hollywood 70s superstar Sondra Locke. Several people watched this movie with me. None of them had ever heard of Sondra Locke. So for those of you unfamiliar with her work, think of every Clint Eastwood movie made between 1971 and 1985. She was the love interest. The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Gauntlet, Every Which Way But Loose, Bronco Billy, Sudden Impact...in fact, without Clint Eastwood, NO ONE would have heard of Sondra Locke. They were together for a fairly long time, but never married. Yet somehow this movie mentions her four hundred times without a mention of Clint. Seems strange.

But she is an ideal star for a movie such as this one. Just like John Malkovich was an inspired choice for Being John Malkovich, Sondra Locke is the perfect 70s star for Our Very Own. This town is so small and insignificant, you see, that the possibility that Sondra Locke might return for an afternoon at a horse show is enough to send the town into a frenzy of gossip and preparations. Or, at least, the teenagers. The dream here, of course, is that they will be spotted by their famous ex-pat, discovered, and whisked off to Hollywood to become stars themselves. And once again the movie retreats back into that familiar formula. The dreary hopelessness and tedium of small town life, the dreams to get out...it’s all too familiar and it’s all too boring. Some fine actors give fine performances but that’s all this movie can manage. It’s fine. It’ll do. And that’s all.

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