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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 21.43%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 21.43%
Total Crap: 14.29%

2 reviews, 16 user ratings

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Favor, The (2008)
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by Erik Childress

"Lacks The Quiet Dignity Of Kitten With A Whip"
2 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 CINEVEGAS FILM FESTIVAL: Eva Aridjis’ The Favor tells the story of two high school sweethearts reconnecting after their separation 25 years earlier. Wait a minute, that’s wrong. OK, it’s about a disillusioned teenage boy grasping with the death of his mother at his own hands. Hold it, that can’t be right. Alright, now I’ve got it. Eva Aridjis’ The Favor is about a lonely man who agrees to foster a teenager only to find him tearing his life apart. Actually, it’s barely about that either. Forgive me if I’ve already forgotten what The Favor is really about, but the truth is so does Miss Aridjis. So drastically in fact, that the film doesn’t even qualify for After School Special exemption status.

We’ll start 25 years ago though when young Lawrence (Luke Robertson) and young Caroline (Laura Breckinridge, the lovely star of TV’s Related and the overlooked charmer, Southern Belles) are about to separate after a three-year courtship. She promises to keep in touch, but Lawrence has his doubts. Turns out he was right as we flash to the present where Lawrence (Frank Wood) looks the part of a guy who was dumped by a hottie 25 years earlier. He works in a small town police station and does photography on the side. Who knew that the love of his life would come calling?

Caroline (Paige Turco) is now divorced and has a teenage son, Johnny (Ryan Donowho), who does little but mope and practice his guitar. During dinner, Lawrence reminds her how much she hurt him and either out of sympathy or a chance for her own happiness, she agrees to see him again. How was she to know that she’d take a Sandra Bullock-like trip down her own stairs, tripping over Johnny’s guitar cord while he stretched it to the bathroom mirror. So she’s dead, her Alzheimer-suffering invalid father is going to the nursing home and because of her wishes not for Johnny to go to his deadbeat dad, Lawrence steps in and offers to be his foster parent. Kind of a drastic move to help out the boy he just met spawned from the woman who dumped you 25 years ago (back in his life for one evening) and the dude she dumped you for. You could say Lawrence is whipped but she barely had time to take it out before doing a triple-gainer from floor two.

Anyone can look at Lawrence and Johnny and know that this relationship is destined to be rocky. Lawrence is neat and patterned (but not "anal") and Johnny barely talks. Every time he shows up at some other kid’s house, the parent instantly pegs him as someone they’d rather not have their child hang around with. But Lawrence does what he can and after about a week of lying, ditching school, getting arrested and finally the most grievous of sins on my personal last-straw meter, he declares himself a bad parent. Back-and-forth go the problems in one telegraphed scene after another and with a half-hour left, there’s absolutely zero sign that this kid is going to connect or is worthy enough to connect with the other more responsible figures in his life. Aridjis devotes more pages to an ill-timed acid trip than developing any of the characters earlier than a few overly simplistic motivators in the final 15 minutes. All after Lawrence subtly declares, “You know what Johnny – you ruined my life.”

I didn’t believe anything in The Favor and worse, I couldn’t be brought to care. Not even about Frank Wood’s Lawrence whose performance is the one minor saving grace of the piece. Ryan Donowho’s shrugged shoulder, hands-in-pocket slacker with occasionally labored outburst performance makes him completely unsympathetic to the point where an ending of Steinbeck proportions would almost be a necessary evil. At 110 minutes, The Favor should have had plenty of room to cram in a variety of thematic emotions and a core relationship based in regret and rebirth. Instead we have time in-between all the false moments and dragged-out antagonism to mock the film’s drug dealer who comes off like Crispin Glover’s pathetically wimpy-ass brother and long for the quiet dignity of Kitten with a Whip.

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originally posted: 06/24/06 01:52:21
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2006 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/06/09 sasha great film, saw it in the theaters here! i love ryan donowho! 5 stars
5/21/08 diana belling i say creator rather than having to state director, scriptwriter and producer 1 stars
5/02/08 julio gonzalez well, i'm not a friend of the "creator" and i loved this film. sober, elegant, honest. 5 stars
4/17/08 diana belling could not stay awake. i wish ppl other than friends of the creator could post comments. 1 stars
12/28/07 Chloe Aridjis Please remove the impostor's comment from 12/03/07 as someone usurped my name 5 stars
12/03/07 Joanna Yamasu Has great premise but never delivers. Not worth your time. 1 stars
12/03/07 chloe aridjis its a snoozer 1 stars
8/31/07 gayle realistic, touching,heartfelt. Loved it! 5 stars
10/26/06 Yaqui Avila Dogs acting is superb,drugdealer is a powerfull angel; death is beauty embracing deaddog 5 stars
6/27/06 Monica Chavez Deeply moving, beautiful movie. 5 stars
6/27/06 cindy joseph I loved this movie 5 stars
6/04/06 margarita raskolnikov a sublime fiilm. transcendent. 5 stars
6/04/06 Shayna Unbelievable film!! The story, the acting, everything about it is fantastic!! 5 stars
6/04/06 Heather Beautifully Done. 5 stars
6/04/06 Daniel A moving and entertaining film! 5 stars
6/03/06 Mark A must see! 5 stars
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