David N. Reyes
David N. Reyes
It's so easy at the beginning. A couple meets, the honeymoon period of a relationship begins, marriage, and kids. Not always in that order but I'm sure most get the idea. It's when the kids enter the picture that a relationship really changes, that life really changes. It's no longer a story of just the couple... now it's the story of a family and a family life. Gone are the days of total spontaneity. Gone are the days of selfish pleasures because now, there's more than just you... more than just us. Family is often idolized; it's the dream life of many. However, what we don't hear about as often, is what happens when the kids grow up and leave the nest. It's oftentimes considered a parent's dream to raise children and push them out into the world but what then? Years of always attempting to be at your best behavior, for the kid's sake, is now a moot point. Once again, the parents find themselves with only each other to occupy the time. It can be a time of rediscovery and adventure... or completely the opposite. In this film, Ben and Sara are about to find out what it's like to have the house to themselves again - for better or for worse.
There's really not a lot of ticks on the board that "Empty Nester's Handbook" leaves out. From the initial elation of having the house to themselves permanently, to the inevitable quips Ben and Sara find themselves griping about stemming from sheer annoyance with one another. With humor always in mind, David N. Reyes has included most of the expected relationship monsters and also added in some of the emotional ones. We have nights out, lots of drinking, some dancing, a road trip, and finally an unexpected close-out to the film. As Ben and Sara try and rediscover themselves onscreen it's really hard not to imagine yourself in the same situation eventually... if you have children that is. Reyes' film may be a comedy - but it's not a far stretch to see some of the real issues that are not really funny at all including depression, and even self-worth and sex appeal. This works to balance the film and add some needed hints of drama. However, the fact is that "Empty Nester's Handbook" really could be just what the name implies. A handbook to help anyone about to find themselves in an empty nest for the first time in forever. For the people already in the empty nester's club, the familiarity of Sara and Ben's situation will supply most of the comedy - this film is geared to them.
Although not perfect, "Empty Nester's Handbook" looks and sounds pretty damn good. There are a few giveaways that this is an indie, lower-budget flick but not as many as you may think. A few many fade to black transitions or a weird feeling edit here and there, or some slightly distorted dialog occasionally are things I noticed. For the most part, however, Reyes and his cast and crew have delivered what I would call an indie film done right. I've seen countless movies with massive budgets showcase themselves much worse, and at the end of the day I have no problem writing that "Empty Nester's Handbook" provides a light, often funny look at the "day after" the kids all leave home.
I also, with a sigh of relief, have no issues writing that Laura Frances and Darin Murphy as Sara and Ben have absolutely no problem delivering the goods. This couple could be the real deal and us viewers could simply be flies on the wall, watching everything unfold. Their performances are not only grounded and at times comical, but also completely believable. If some viewers of the film are anything like myself, they'll easily pick out character traits they are familiar with, adding even more credibility to the on-screen couple.
When it's all said and done? David N. Reyes and his talented cast and crew have delivered a solid ninety minutes of entertainment. Although created with a wink to those who have older children, this isn't a movie made only for them. The mix of comedy with a splash of seriousness works to keep the film grounded as it races its way to the end credits. A rock-solid film that I would have no problem recommending to those who ask. Well done.