Its 2:02 pm
After avoiding snow for much of our winter,Mother Nature has finally decided to say “hello” and has dumped two snow storms and a polar vortex on my part of Michigan.
What a perfect time to grab the remote and see which film the cheetah has picked out for us today.
On the surface,writer Jack Spencer (David Arquette) has it all,Amanda (Amy Acker),his loving and supportive wife,two great kids and a nice house. His first book was a overnight best seller and the future seems extremely bright.
But as we follow Jack as he is driving home,we see the truth,his last two books had horrible reviews and even worse sales,he has lost his writing mojo and its been years since his first book was published.
Because Jack is in such a deep funk,he has lost track of his family and now his marriage to Amanda is in trouble. She still believes in Jack but is frustrated that he seems to only interested in wallowing in self-pity. Her brother has booked a “glamping” trip for Jack and Amanda in the hope that they can reconnect in a small town called Elgin which is in Texas.
Amanda is bright and hopeful while Jack is morose and sullen. They arrive at the campsite and see their trailer,a fully loaded mobile home. (Glamping is the term for camping in style and comfort.) The camp is quiet and serene and things look promising for the couple.
But when another couple show up to the trailer,it becomes clear that a double booking has happened. Jamie and Abe have just gotten married and have invited their friends to come to celebrate with them. They of course are much younger and are all about social media as they take and post selfies endlessly which annoys Jack to no end.
The happiness that the newlyweds have proves a bit overwhelming for Jack and he takes off,only to be captured by a young man who is on a scouting trek. Ben (a scene stealing Chris Carpenter) and Jack bond even as Ben has tied Jack up. You want to feel bad for Jack but the fact he is a such a self-pitying asshole who can’t get along with his own wife without a struggle much less with strangers. His self-destructive actions doesn’t warrant the love and compassion of Amanda and had me wondering just what she saw in Jack all these years they have been together.
Jack returns to camp just in time to see the owner Nate show up well. Nate (Adan Canto) is a ball of positive vibes,in good shape and seems to really care about his guests.
He even recognizes Jack from a book he bought (in a dollar bin- which made me laugh).
Jack continues to act surly and unpleasant and wants to go home. But Amanda refuses to go,she needed a break and she intends to get one and Jack wants to go,he can.
Jack indeed packs his bags and starts out on foot,his journey,whether he knows it or not,is truly his last chance at finding himself before he loses everything he holds dear…..
I really enjoyed “Amanda & Jack Go Glamping”…..until the last 10 minutes in which writer-director Brandon Dickerson completely shot both his feet off. What started out as a fine character study of a husband and wife struggling to save their marriage and in a sense,themselves,falls into a totally boring and stupid “Hollywood ending” and it left us feeling cheated.
Dickerson’s script had made it clear that Amanda and Jack’s marriage was on the ropes.
Jack wallowing in his trough while their finances were crumbling and Amanda was juggling motherhood and running the home are clearly stated. When Nate shows attention to Amanda in the beginning,Nate also sees this and is quite respectful of the problems the couple is having and he attempts to connect with both Jack and Amanda despite Jack’s anti-social actions. Its clear that the couple’s problems have been YEARS in the making,if this trip doesn’t start the reversal that Jack needs in his life,he is going to have to WORK for it and this is why this film fails.
Dickerson instead decides to cop out on Jack having to put things right by putting in the work by having Nate suddenly becoming a seducer of Amanda by putting on a full court press on her emotions once Jack leaves. Jack returns and badly sings a song which of course melts Amanda’s heart and they are back in each other’s arms. It’s a complete insult to Amanda’s long suffering love and loyalty.
Its also an insult to the viewer and to a very good cast that Dickerson decided to sink their efforts in such trope driven bullshit because the cast deserved better.
When I bought this movie,it was because Amy Acker was on the cover and I so adore her as an actress. She is such a underrated actress whose mantle should be filled with awards. While her part wasn’t written as well as Arquette’s,she still shines and when she drops a “F bomb” its so surprising coming from such a soft spoken lady.
The biggest surprise was Arquette as Jack Spencer. He was rock solid in portraying a wallowing self-loathing writer who just can’t get out of his own way. I was leery at first because Arquette has hamstrung his own acting career by making a LOT of bad choices (pro wrestling,being seen on TMZ more then onscreen) but Dickerson did get a very good performance and gives one hope that more folks give Arquette some bigger parts.
The scene stealer was Chris Carpenter who played Ben the scout. Carpenter showed some real chops both as a an old soul who offers wisdom to Jack and also a deft sense of humor as for every kindness in thought or deed towards Jack allows Ben to gain another scouting badge. He and Arquette’s scenes together were the strongest part of “Glamping”. Carpenter is just starting out but his talent reminds me of other young talented stars like Erika Daly,Ella Ballentine and Emjay Anthony,he is someone to a keep a eye out for.
This is a tough call as to whether we recommend watching “Amanda & Jack” but after the cheetah and I talked about it,we think the great cast and the hard work they put in deserves a look and hopefully director Dickerson will pull a Jack Spencer and get the hell out of his own way in his next script. We give this one a thumbs/paw straight up.
This is a indie film put out by Gravitas Ventures and might be hard to find in the wild so you may need to shop their website to pick it up….
The run time is 90 minutes and there are no special features. This movie is unrated but would be a “R” rating for language.