This one was a tough one for me. There was no question Christopher Flippo's film "Down And Yonder" was a good one - the question was how good? My final verdict came from an outside comment from my wife. Imagine that? It just came to be that she walked in when I first started the film playing, and ended up watching the whole thing with me. This usually isn't the case. When I do watch movies in our living room, and she wonders in, she generally gets lost in her cell phone - or on the laptop. This is a constant battle when I "do" want to watch something with her, but I suppose that's the time we live in right? Anyhow... my point? She ended up watching the entire film. Just before rising from our not that comfortable couch, she uttered five words. They were "That was actually really good" before exiting stage right to get herself ready for work.
What struck me even more as odd? Generally she dilly-dallies when preparing for work. Making sure to have lots of extra time to get ready. On this day, she was almost late. Now... I did like this film but was also fully aware that "Down And Yonder" was not my cup of sweet tea. Romance and "sappy" flicks rarely are - and although there is romance in this movie, it's more of a "bromance" kind of production - and even that isn't really correct. As the package promises, "Down And Yonder" is a coming of age story that takes place a little later in our characters lives, than it does for most of us.
The overall gist of things? Two childhood friends growing to the ripe ol' age of thirty as we, the viewers, reflect on their existence and life choices. The characters reflect as well, obviously, but the real magic here comes from the fact you may just follow suite. Reflect right along with them. Maybe, especially, if you're well past that age yourself. As I wrote, this genre isn't really my thing... and yet I quickly found myself lost in the small little world Christopher Flippo, and his cast and crew set before me. I do have a theory on why this film works so well, and I'll discuss that below, but put in the simplest of terms... this is just good work. The reaction of my wife solidified that notion. No question about that.
Visually, and all things production related, I have virtually nothing bad to write. This is a great looking film. It just so happens that it also sounds nice, and to finish everything off, it's all edited up into a spiffy - shiny package. The bottom line is that coming across "Down And Yonder" while casually channel surfing, would yield very little clues visually, that this is a low budget production. I do realize this film had a small amount of money to work with, but when you consider the "average" budget of a movie... this one had almost nothing. And turned out remarkably well. In all honesty? There was a time or two when the acting (or) the scripted dialog did feel a little awkward, but the truth is that "Down And Yonder" fared better than the majority of "made for TV" movies I've seen. Including those featuring well known actors handing off some awful performances. It's really hard to say for certain if it was the cast that put forth some of the weaker performances. Or, as I wrote above, it was all in the script. I won't say any more on the matter because realistically, these instances were few and far between.
Now, as promised, my theory on why this movie was so easy to fall into. One word. Cliche. Many of us complain about cliche stories and cliche characters. The truth however, is that on occasion, a cliche character is exactly what a movie needs. When attempting a production that involves emotions, and life in general, a cliche and familiar set of people is just what the doctor ordered. The familiar character traits, the familiar concept and plot, allows a viewer to almost immediately relate with - and understand what's actually happening. Like relationships themselves. The ability to relate is a huge attraction. Us folk who write about movies all complain about a predictable story or character personality. Yet in cases such as this one, that very predictability is a huge draw. Some stories are meant to be instantly cliche - and in this case... it works so well it's scary. We instantly know Wally and Sugar Baby. Yes... that's right... Sugar Baby. We also know Mara, to some extent. These three are the main players in this film - and although I can write they all performed amazingly... I also think a good chunk of their performances are based on the cliche nature of the characters. I hope this all makes sense to anyone reading. If it doesn't? Watch the film.
When it's all said and done, this is an excellent film. I personally, probably would have rated it a little bit less than I did, but that's only because it's not my genre. I would be considered the "Sugar Baby" of reviewers, and not really advertise or fully comprehend the nature of this film. That's just me. Not usually the overly thinking type. In the end however, I factored in the entire situation with my wife. She not only watched the entire film with me, but sacrificed her dilly-dally time before work to do it. That's plenty proof for me that this film has something special going for it, and I'm not going to argue that point at all. Well done ladies and gents. Enough said.