Directed by: Christopher Flippo
Written by: Christopher Flippo
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Length: 86 minutes
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Down And Yonder
Wally (Chris Schulz) and Steven, aka Sugar Baby (Geoff James) have been friends since grade school. The last remaining troops from a group of friends, who have long since moved on in one form or another. These two have always been thick as thieves, with Wally playing the role of the fearless general, and Sugar Baby his trusty soldier. Like so many small town folk, the dream is to get out. See the world. Also like so many, some never make it. Stuck within the confines of the familiar. Never having the courage, or feeling the need to leave. In this way, Wally and Sugar Baby were like peas in a pod. Until that is, Mara (Emily Landham) is introduced to the picture. Sweeping Wally off his feet and eventually, helping him rethink his hometown shackles.
We open with a trip to dig up an old time capsule. Buried by children, dug up by men almost twenty years later. A symbol of how many dreams became a reality. How much this group of friends had grown. Only... not much has actually changed for these two friends, and now Wally is leaving, and tension reigns supreme. It's then these two best friends stopped talking, and Christopher Flippo's film chronicles the lead up to this point, and then goes slightly beyond. Using these childhood amigos as the brushes, Flippo's title paints a picture of small town life. Friendship. Hardship and finally, forgiveness. Ambitious stuff when working with a 30K budget. It all comes down to a cast that can physically pull off the performances required. "Down And Yonder" has got them. Absolutely. But a buddy movie can be difficult to stop, from slipping into an all out chick flick. This title walks the line nicely.
I was a little mortified by how quickly, and how much I fell into this title. At times I can be a little quirky on what I like and don't like, when watching movies. Maybe a little 'picky' would be a better way to describe it. I have a tendency to break things apart as I watch, and I don't even know when it happened, but quite quickly I put down the mental notepad and just enjoyed the show.
Especially with micro produced titles, this is a rare occurrence. I think a lot of this had to do with the fact I'm from a small town. Not down south mind you, but I imagine part of the small town charm is the similarities when used as a blanket term. I would have liked to have seen some scenes from the childhood of our leads. That would have been the proverbial icing on the cake. Not an issue of any concern obviously, as our cast really milked their implied youth; with some good dialog and believable expressions. Still would have been a nice touch, but may have also 86'd the the pacing of the film. About that...
The use of Mara, as both a kick in the arse to get Wally's life into gear, and as a pacing/story buffer was a good one. Using her character present tense, to tell the bulk of the story in flashbacks, was an excellent idea. Not only did this make things flow nicely, but kept the speed of the film as tight as it could be considering the genre. First thoughts when watching was that "Down And Yonder" was more a chick flick, but using her as the springboard, allowed that coming of age feeling to creep in steadily and nicely. Clocking in at close to an hour and a half could have felt a little long winded, as far as micro titles go, but her addition kept things moving quickly and with purpose. Not just the love interest, but serving a pacing purpose. I don't know if this was intentional or not, but it worked.
Through the excellent cast and great production results, "Down And Yonder" ended up being one of those titles I may have missed completely, had it otherwise not been submitted. That would have been a shame. When you can go into a movie, ready to point out anything that may not have been perfect, and just sit back and enjoy yourself... well that just says volumes doesn't it? I may have missed a few things. Probably did. I'm sure if I went back and looked I could find 'some' technical flaw or acting quirk to write about. The point is I don't want to. Simply because I left my "reviewers hat" in it's box beside me, is reason enough to recommend this title. As far as micro productions go? This is one of the best I've seen this year. I suppose I'll have to revisit it in another twenty years. Until then...