The stars seem to be having a great time at the Sundance Film Festival, which kicked off last Thursday in Park City, Utah. You've seen my picks for some of the most promising comedies and dramas at this year's festival, and now it's time for my third installment: dramedies.
One of my favorite dramedies of all time is last year's Little Miss Sunshine. It encapsulated so many aspects of the human experience that I laughed, I cried, I danced to "Superfreak." Perhaps one of these films will be this year's Little Miss Sunshine.
If I Had Known I Was A Genius
Michael (Markus Redmond) is a precocious African-American boy with a genius IQ, struggling to fit in at school and deal with his dysfunctional family. His mother (Whoopi Goldberg) and other family consistently challenge Michael's sense of self-worth, refusing to encourage his abilities. But he finds a mentor in his wacky drama teacher, who gives him the courage to dream of becoming an actor.
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The Good Life
The Good Life tells the story of small-town soul suffocation through the eyes of Jason Prayer (Mark Webber). Jason works two jobs, is regularly bullied, and finds his only relief in the old town cinema, which is on its last legs — as is its owner, Gus (Harry Dean Stanton). His listless routine gets a shock, however, when a stranger (Zooey Deschanel) comes to town and turns around his desperate life. Bill Paxton and Chris Klein also star.
Steve Buscemi has been in countless films, but rarely does he play anything but the weirdo or the hapless goofball. So it's refreshing to see him have a hand in different projects that focus on him instead of shoving him to the periphery of the movie's storyline. In Delirious, Buscemi plays Les, a paparazzo who befriends the amiable and homeless Toby (Michael Pitt). Toby learns firsthand about the world of sleazily staking out celebrities and, in the midst of chasing down photo ops, falls for sexy pop tart K'harma (Alison Lohman). Les grows jealous of Toby's romance, and their friendship is called into question.
The synopsis for this movie on the Sundance site calls it a "coming-of-middle-age" film. A brother and sister (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney) suddenly find themselves having to take care of their ill, aging father, a man who never seemed to care for them. Though stories of youthful growing pains are plentiful, it's refreshing to see a tale about the challenges facing adult children of aging parents, and it's likely to resonate with audiences just as much.