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2 reviews, 10 user ratings

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Ocean Front Property
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by Brian McKay

"How’d you like to spend a week with your ex . . . and her new husband?"
4 stars

Every once in a while I get a DVD screener in my mailbox from some hungry young indie filmmaker who I’ve never heard of. More often than not, the film in question is total crap, but I’m happy to report that such is not the case this time. Written and directed by leading man Joe Scott, OCEAN FRONT PROPERTY is one of those rare treats, where a talented filmmaker manages to create a winning title with just a handful of characters, a single setting, and a well-written script.

As the title implies, OCEAN FRONT PROPERTY is set almost exclusively in a beach house, which is owned by the parents of Rick’s (Joe Scott) former fiancée, Valerie (Lizzie Landers). A scant month before they were to be married, Valerie dumped Rick after a five year relationship and, in the quickest turnaround since Hamlet’s Gertrude married Claudius, she married new husband Pierre (Thad Newton) on the same date that she and Rick were to be hitched. Obviously, she’s a cold and heartless bitch, or at least that’s how Rick sees her.

Now it’s a year later, and things aren’t going so well for the chronically depressed Rick. Luckily for him, Valerie’s parents still love him, and agree to let him use their summer beach house for a week, where he and Valerie had so many good times. Rick goes there in an effort to find some closure, accompanied by his best friend Stan (John Frazier) and Stan’s wife, Jordan (Erin McGrew), who was Valerie’s best friend before the big break-up. Rick spends hours walking on the beach or sitting around the house drinking, and his mood isn’t elevated at all when Valerie and Pierre show up out of the blue, Valerie insisting that they had dibs on the cabin for that week. In a stroke of genius that backfires, Rick invites them to stay, thinking that the prideful Valerie will instead leave. She doesn’t. Rick proceeds to bang head against wall, once she’s out of earshot.

To make matters worse, Pierre is every bit the handsome and charming guy that Rick’s worst fears assumed he would be, and clearly he and Valerie are disgustingly happy together. That means it’s time for Rick to increase his alcohol intake. Would you like some salt on that margarita, and in those painful and festering old wounds, Rick? But as the week progresses, and Rick has his inevitable confrontations with both Valerie and Pierre, he discovers that she’s not quite the heartless bitch, nor he the woman-stealing pretty boy that he’s made them out to be. While Valerie’s actions in marrying Pierre on the day that she and Rick had planned for could be safely judged as insensitive and thoughtless, she harbors her fair share of remorse behind the outer appearance of a happy newlywed. Likewise, Pierre isn’t the arrogant bastard that Rick would like him to be, but a genuinely decent guy with his own share of doubts and insecurities when it comes to his relationship with Valerie. “If she could do it to you, she can do it to me,” he says, when confiding to Rick that he often feels like he’s living in Rick’s shadow.

Meanwhile, Stan and Jordan struggle with the decision to have a baby (he wants one, she’s not ready), and Rick is shamelessly flirted with by gorgeous young blonde Lucy (Eryn Brooke), whose parents own the house down the beach. At first Rick believes her to be no older than sixteen, and keeps an appropriate distance. But that changes when she claims to be eighteen, and of “legal flirting age” (don’t they always claim that, though?).

The opening credits of OCEAN FRONT PROPERTY bill it not as “a film” by Joe Scott, but rather “a slice of life”, and it is exactly this slice-of-life approach to the characters and subject matter that makes the film so personal and enjoyable. It is easy to like and relate to each of the characters, and to appreciate their flaws and inner struggles. Despite the singular setting, the pace never bogs down, and the film consistently delivers moments of both hilarity and poignancy. The dialogue is sharp, and although the acting often has an unpolished feel to it, the cast manages to surpass that minor handicap and convey genuine chemistry and emotions through their characters. Although the script does get a tad melodramatic at times, such as when it focuses on Stan and Jordan’s decision to have a child, it still feels more “real” than similar scenarios in other films that usually end up feeling far more contrived and overacted than what we see here. There are a few other small conceits here and there that bear a hint of typical male wish fulfillment (what guy wouldn’t want some teenage hottie hitting on him in front of the ex who brutally dumped him?), but the more we get to know the characters, the more believable these scenarios become.

(Ocean Front Property will be playing at the DV Film Festival in Los Angeles, on Dec 8 2004)

OCEAN FRONT PROPERTY is a solid first effort from Joe Scott, and a strong calling card from a filmmaker I’d like to see more from in the coming years. Likewise, the entire cast performs admirably, and Scott has a keen director’s eye and a gift for editing that squeezes the most out of the film’s funniest scenes. Anyone who’s ever dumped or been dumped by someone can relate wholeheartedly to the feelings that exist between Rick, Valerie, and Pierre – thereby giving OCEAN FRONT PROPERTY a built-in target audience of about 98 percent of the population.

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originally posted: 12/01/04 02:41:34
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User Comments

1/18/19 Big Al I loved it 5 stars
12/17/04 Christopher Ripley Great scriptwriting. Really funny. With the right amount of funding, a real winner. 4 stars
12/16/04 Trudy Matus I loved the film. Although I was put off at first that it didn't have that "slick look" 5 stars
12/15/04 Rosie Stone Super film! Anyone who's ever been dumped can identify. See it if you can. 5 stars
12/03/04 Kevin Fish This movie is fantastic. It has the very good balance of realism and humor. Check it out! 5 stars
12/02/04 Casidhe Meriwether A great film for a first time filmmaker. Good mix of humor and touching moments. 5 stars
11/22/04 Loita Cottle This film has depth, humor, compassion, and great music. Wonderful first film! 5 stars
11/21/04 Gary Kennamer This movie is terrific. Words aren't enough to do it justice. See it! 5 stars
11/21/04 Patrick Moore The caracters are genuine. The dialogue is right on. I was touched. You will be, too. 5 stars
11/09/04 Bart Crow I really enjoyed it aand found Lucy and not TA but am ol soul who is stuck beyond her cont 4 stars
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  12-Jan-2004 (NR)
  DVD: 05-Dec-2006



Directed by
  Joe Scott

Written by
  Joe Scott

  Joe Scott
  Eryn Brooke
  John Frazier
  Lizzie Lander
  Erin McGrew
  Thad Newton

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