Mr. Roosevelt SXSW Movie Review
Film is reviewed from the 2017 SXSW Film Festival screening
We see Emily (Noël Wells), a struggling comedian, as she is talking about herself, letting us know more about her than we could possibly want to know. It turns out that she is telling this story to a casting director and she has just blown 2 of her 3 minutes allotted time for her audition on her back story. As the bored casting director and her people look on, in a rapid fire succession Emily goes through a number of impressions, including Holly Hunter. When she is finally finished, Emily is met with the same bored stares she started with, and she leaves disenchanted.
We see her show up at her job, some ad agency that seems to run out of a someone’s home. The boss (Doug Benson) doesn’t appear to support Emily’s attempt to be a comedian/actress and is rather displeased with her being late (even though she told him she would be late the day before) until he sees her edit work on a commercial for a drug company.
Emily gets a phone call, and it’s bad news, someone has died back home in Austin. Emily rushes to the airport to return home. She makes her way to the hospital, when she gets there, we realize that she was rushing to Austin over a cat named Mr. Roosevelt, not a person. At the vet’s she encounters her old boyfriend, Eric (Nick Thule), who she left the cat with when she headed to L.A. two years prior. While it’s nice to see Eric again, he has a new girlfriend, Celeste (Britt Lower), a woman who seems to be everything that Emily isn’t. Where Emily is a ball of energy, full of quips and her life a mess, Celeste is the model of composure and style. Celeste and Eric insist that Emily stay with them, in the house that once was the home of Emily shared with Nick. This weekend is going to be a wild ride, will Emily survive it?
Director/writer/star Noël Wells brings us a amusing tale of the trials and tribulations of going home again. Emily left two years ago full of hopes and dreams of making it as a comedian in L.A., fueled on by her viral success of a few funny YouTube videos. Achievement hasn’t come for Emily, and she has to return home to find that everyone else has moved on – their existences have evolved into stable, successful lives. Emily, who has to keep wearing the same outfit every day (she didn’t pack much in her haste to get to Austin), is a fish out of water in her own hometown. That is until she finds a new set of friends, led by Jen (Daniella Pindeda) who is a free-spirit who supports her career playing drums in a rock band by being a waitress. Jen gives Emily unconditional support, no matter how crazy Emily gets. It’s a theme in this film that men aren’t always around, so a strong support group of women is needed to keep going.
Wells is a ball of energy on the screen, and while at the start of the film, I was afraid that I might tire of her character. Instead I fell in love with her, wanting her character to succeed, even in spite of herself. I loved the writing in this film, which is a love letter to the weird side of Austin and all the people that make that city so unique. Wells gives us an inside look into the neighborhoods and bar scenes of the city so that we experience what is the day-to-day life for Austin’s residents.
Wells tackles everything from online dating, one night stands, getting internet famous and the harsh life of an actor, all with a wry sense of humor that makes this movie a blast to watch. Wells lets us see that Emily isn’t just about being funny, she has a dark side that can be self-centered and a bit tunnel visioned, something that she struggles to overcome. Wells takes Emily on a journey that is tough to confront, but once she does she realizes that it’s time to move on and make the world her’s.
Mr. Roosevelt is a joy to watch, a film that feels very personal and inviting. We may not always approve of the choices that Emily makes, but we are more than willing to find out where those choices take her, most likely with hilarious results. My Rating: Full Price
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
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