Friday, June 20, 2014

Streaming possibility: Steph Green's "get well soon" family dramedy, RUN AND JUMP

My friend and occasional co-writer here, Lee Liberman, refers to certain films as "Hallmark cards" -- as in, "That was a little too Hallmark for me." I get what she means. Even in some of the films I've enjoyed -- often genre movies such as the GLBT-themed What Happens Next? and The Perfect Wedding -- I must admit that these do have their Hallmark aspect. This past week we streamed a movie I'd call the thinking person's Hallmark: RUN & JUMP, the first full-length film from Steph Green.

Ms Green -- shown at right, who earlier gave us the very charming and on-point short New Boy -- both directed and co-wrote (with Ailbhe Keogan) the movie, which tells of a period in which the father of the family (Edward MacLiam, below, center right) is recovering from a stroke he had at a very early age and is now coming home to stay with his wife (Maxine Peake, below, left, of the Brit mini-series Silk), son (Brendan Morris, below, center, left), daughter (Ciara Gallagher), at far right, being held) and a research doctor (Will Forte, below, right, doing the holding) whose grant money allows him to stay with the family (and provide them some much-needed financial aid) even as he daily videos dad's progress -- or lack of it.

Clearly, this is a fraught situation full of possibilities for drama, comedy, extra-curricular romance and much else. Ms Green generally makes the most of this without going overboard into farce or melodrama. What we think may happen often does -- but in a manner a bit different from what we initially imagine.

This is both the strength and weakness of the movie, for if the film does not go in for the heavy hand, it still makes everything a little too easy, as all falls too neatly, and finally, expectedly, into place. "All" would include the physical and mental attraction between wife and doctor, hubby's progress stroke-wise, and even the son's coming to terms with his being gay (and everyone else coming to terms with this, too).

Run & Jump is indeed a feel-good film and well-acted by all, especially Mr. Liam's dad (whose post-stroke feelings are now right on the surface) and Ms Peake's mum, a dervish of energy and appeal. Mr. Forte does a more than credible job as the doctor in the middle of it all, and the filmmaker manages to keep everything rolling for the slightly-longer-than-necessary 106 minutes.

Though not as easy a landing for all these characters as it might have been (imagine what would happen had Hollywood gotten hold of this story), it's still a bit easier than it is believable. It's Hallmark, all right, but for those who need a little edge to their "get well soon" and "ain't families grand" sentiment.

Run & Jump can be streamed now via Netlfix and elsewhere and is also available on DVD.

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