During Oscar season, Mike and I always seem to have a long running list of movies we’re dying to see. Spooner was at the top of our cinematic to-see list a few years back but, unfortunately, no one seemed to want to support the film’s release so it never made it to theaters. In some cases, that’s a pretty good indication that a movie isn’t very good. But other times it simply means that the film is quirky and delightful but too off-beat for a mainstream audience. In this case, I’m happy to say Spooner fell into the latter category.
First of all, this film’s star is Matthew Lillard. I was pretty surprised to see him in a movie trailer, let alone one for an indie, Garden State-esque film. And he was also one of the film’s producers. I have a sneaking suspicion that Spooner was a passion project of sorts for the actor and that this film is much more closely aligned with Lillard’s real-life tastes than some of the work he’s more well known for, like Scooby Doo or She’s All That.
While the movie is a fairly typical boy meets girl, indie coming of age story, I found it’s simplicity and unassuming nature to be particularly unique among the increasingly popular genre. Herman Spooner, portrayed by Lillard, is on the cusp of turning 30 and still lives at home with his parents. He’s about to be evicted by the folks and hit the big 3-0 mark when he meets the girl of his dreams. Rose Conlin, portrayed by the lovely and adorable Nora Zehetner, is an ex-bartender on a mission to do something monumental with her life. Roses’s plans to change her life involve flying to the Philippines to become a teacher. But en route to her parent’s house for a going away party just days before her flight, Rose’s car breaks down in Spooner’s hometown. When Spooner offers some assistance, his good intentions override his social awkwardness as he tries to reign in this perfect girl.
It’s not like this story hasn’t been done before, complete with a soundtrack of yet-to-be-discoverd bands, artistic cinematography, and film festival recognitions to boot. But I find this film so unpretentious. The story is told very directly but also with extreme sweetness. Yes, you will find yourself questioning how someone like Spooner could possibly exist as he does, but you’ll also find yourself completely won over by his naivete, his innocence. Heart-warming and genuine, this is a movie about love in its simplest form without ever trying to over-complicate the issue.
The little bits of humor peppered throughout don’t hurt a bit either. I don’t often find myself laughing aloud while watching movies or TV but there were a considerable number of times when I did so with this movie. From Spooner’s social faux pas to his hilariously mismatched blind date with the drunken and promiscuous Linda, there is just as much to laugh about in this film as there is to warrant a little sigh of contentment.
The one problem with this movie is trying to get your hands on a copy. Mike serendipitously found it while browsing the new movies that were being offered On Demand and we paid a few bucks to watch it from the comfort of our own home. I’m pretty sure that it was never released in theaters and I don’t know much about a DVD release. All I know is that those of you with access to Comcast Cable On Demand can spare a few dollars to indulge in this sweet romantic comedy. And if you don’t fall into that category, I’ll simply suggest keeping your eyes and ears open for any word of this one!