Ashby movie full length review - Ashes to Others
I thought I was in the presence of another well-written, cute, heartfelt, deep indie with great music and performances when two minutes into the film, an awesome teacher releases the line: "Don't add homophobe to idiot, Valchek. People already don't like you."
Sadly, I was wrong.
What I was hoping for was another Little Miss Sunshine, The Way, Way Back or The Perks of Being a Wallflower. What I got was a writer/director who probably saw those, maybe more of the like and thought he could recreate their magic. He did not. Hell, even that teacher I loved upfront bailed on him early on with no resolve or more depth.
Okay, backing up. It's not a bad film. It has another great Mickey Rourke performance, a wonderful secondary star with Emma Roberts and the film is well shot and professionally done. It does, in fact, have a good (not great) soundtrack and is successful at mimicking the aforementioned films.
But, the most problems arise with the lead: Nat Wolff as Ed. Ed's supposed to be this brilliant up and coming 17-year-old High School student who opposes his own generation and yearns for deeper and smarter people. He does not accomplish this. He is almost an exact replica of those he looks down upon. Additionally, as smart (mouthed) as he is, he's fairly dumb at times. Maybe he's supposed to be like today's generation of the kids that I rarely make contact with, but what I was given in the opening third or so, he was meant to be thoughtful and three steps ahead of everyone else. This did not turn out like that. He simply became a caricature of himself. Not to mention really annoying at times.
Further, the film was wildly predictable and the many subplots were opened and never resolved. Forgotten, perhaps. The mother's was left hanging. The jocks and scholarships vanish like the disappearing Daddy. And the awesome teacher I mentioned?maybe the actor's salary was too high and they could only afford to shoot him in one day.
Sure, there was a kind of a direct line in the story for the neighbor, a grumpy old man who is dying, has a past and given a short future. And there's our "hero," Ed, who kinda wants to succeed, but also join the football team just to prove something. I am still trying to find out what that is.
The heart's in the right place, but it needed a couple more rewrites to nail it. More needed to be fleshed out and some toned back or even cut. I would recommend it, as it's harmless, but I absolutely recommend the similar films listed above first.
Final thoughts: Sure I spoiled a bunch above ? I did warn yah! ? but one thing I couldn't get past: the boy, or Ed, was an accomplice?to be as broad as I can be. Of course, he didn't start off as one and maybe the government would want to silence him for knowing too much, but he's still doing the wrong thing and is unredeemable in the end. That, my friend, is our "hero" here. We're supposed to back him. I did not.