Tag Archives: Logan Miller

Before I Fall

It’s cupid day. High school student Sam, goes to school with her friends, where they all receive some mystery roses, plan for Sam to lose her virginity to boyfriend Rob later that night, and hit up a party where they drink, predictably taunt an unpopular girl. Then they get in a car and drive home. Only they don’t make it. There’s an accident, and when Sam wakes up…it’s the morning of the same day again. Cupid day is getting the Groundhog Day treatment.

MV5BNGI2ZjQ0MGUtZTQyYS00ZjNkLTg4NjctY2U1Yjg1Y2Y3MzBiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjU4MjYzMjk@._V1_By the third day she’s trying to live differently, to do things “right.” But even when she manages to avoid the accident, she still wakes up on the same morning and lives the same day. Sam (Zoey Deutch) is half right. Her ‘perfect’ life is a mystery that needs unraveling, and she’ll have to start questioning everyone and everything in it before she can begin to make adjustments. Sounds predictable, doesn’t it? I didn’t think much more highly of the book, so I wasn’t exactly in a rush to see this movie.

It’s not bad, it’s just not meant for me. This is a story intended for young adult audiences, and I guess that makes me an old adult. I’ve seen the real Groundhog Day. I remember how it counterbalances its existential angst with dark humour. This one takes itself very seriously, so it dips into melodrama, the familiar milieu of so many high school soaps. And you know, forgive me for this massively unfair comparison, but Zoey Deutch is no Bill Murray. It’s hard to make repetition feel cinematic. Feel anything but boring. But for Murray, even a twitch of the eyebrow can make a scene feel transformative. In the case of Before I Fall, Deutch doesn’t even feel well-cast as a high school student (she’s 24, but seems older than her same-age castmates). And the voice over is really just a big stick with which to beat us over the head with the message, which the director apparently does not trust to absorb otherwise. It’s actually not that deep. I think we would have managed, but now we’ll never know, unless tomorrow she wakes up and has to make this movie over again and again until she gets it right. Let’s just hope I’m not stuck in my own time loop, having to watch them.

SXSW: You Can Choose Your Family

I chose this movie because: Jim Gaffigan. God I love him. He’s a stand-up comic whose act for many years concentrated on his 5-kid, 7-person family living in a cramped 2-bedroom apartment in New York City. He’s a family man and a good Catholic whose only sin is gluttony. I shouldn’t like him or relate to him, but he’s a genuinely funny guy, and I can never get enough (he’s got some comedy specials on Netflix and a couple of books at your local library and commercials for mini vans and KFC). So when I heard he was in a movie screening at SXSW, I was on board, no questions asked.

In You Can Choose Your Family, he plays Frank, a father and husband who is often absent, travelling on business. Once high school sweethearts, his wife (Anna Gunn) feels like she hardly knows him anymore, and his son Philip (Logan Miller) feels like his father MV5BMTU3NzI1NTc2N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzQ1MTc3NDM@._V1_has never known him. Philip and his father are always clashing, and Philip can’t wait to get far, far away from his family when he goes to NYU next year. But for now he’s trapped in his father’s house, living by the rules that Frank isn’t even there to enforce. So when Frank flies to Japan on business, Philip thinks it’s the perfect opportunity to go blow off some spring break steam. But what he finds there is not what he bargained for: it’s his dad…and his dad’s second family. Oh, fudge.

So of course Philip blackmails him for all he’s worth. But now that there’s a crack in the secret…well, cracks always get bigger, don’t they? Director Miranda Bailey bills this as a comedy, and the Jim Gaffigan casting would seem to back that up, but this is a pretty unfunny situation that I suppose we’d better laugh at, because the other option is unthinkable. Bailey admits that she’s got some daddy issues to work through, and really, who doesn’t, but laughing at them kept me squirming, and huffing, and burying my head in my hands. If you really stop and think about how you’d feel – as either the child or the spouse – having your relationship and in fact your entire life be usurped by replacements – well, that’s a horrible feeling. And horrible feelings can only exist for so long on film before we’re obligated to break them up with some laughs. Is this a comedy? I wouldn’t go that far. But it was an interesting, sometimes funny, film that will make you appreciate the family you do have, whatever that is.



Note: this film has since been renamed Being Frank.

Love, Simon

I wondered whether we needed a ‘coming out’ movie in 2018, but Love, Simon surprised me. It surprised me most of all by being good, but also by making a case for its existence. Simon is a high school student with a secret. He’s gay. And it’s not that he’s particularly afraid of how his family or friends will react to the news, which is nice, and sadly not everyone’s experience. But Simon’s still holding back just because he feels that life will change for him once he’s out, and he’s not feeling ready to rock the boat.

The thing is, no matter how gently the boat would actually rock, it still should be Simon’s choice when and how to come out – and that should remain true until the proverbial ‘coming out’ is no longer necessary (ie, when hetero is no longer the ‘default’). But in the MV5BZjdmNjI4NjctNWEwNi00M2EwLTg4MzItMWFmMTU0MDJiMzA0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTE0MDE1MjQ@._V1_film, Simon (Nick Robinson) has that stolen from him. Another kid, Martin (Logan Miller), learns his secret and exploits it, uses it to blackmail him for his own ends. Which, okay, further illustrates that everyone in high school is desperate and scared and going through something. But saving yourself should neverĀ  be at somebody else’s expense. Unfortunately, that’s a lesson both Martin AND Simon will have to learn, because to protect his secret, Simon makes some bad choices that will hurt the very friends who will love and support him if and when he does choose to be out.

It’s a pretty solid cast and a pretty solid story and a good reminder that just because being gay is a little more…mainstream? tolerated? understood? – it can still feel like a thing that sets you apart. And while being gay is not a choice, we should all be allowed to choose our own path. Sexuality doesn’t really set us apart but secrets do. And living your truth is the only way out.