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1 review, 2 user ratings

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American Fork (Humble Pie)
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by Katharine Leis

"Memorable and intelligent."
4 stars

A tale of a man with nothing really going for him except his will to be. Amidst grey skies and searching for a purpose, Hubbel Palmer finds that average really isn’t a bad place to be afterall.

American Fork opens with Tracy Orbison (Hubbel Palmer), shifting the gears of his mother’s old car, practicing for what we soon see is his regularly scheduled driver’s test, which he apparently fails without fail every six months. Tracy wears glasses, his hair is long, and he’s around fifty pounds overweight, give or take. Tracy works at the local grocery store, and has done so for the past eleven years. He writes poetry in a composition book, and goes between dieting on ridiculously small portions and binging to excess.
His manager Mr. Grigoratus (Bruce McGill) calls him into the office one day and gives him tickets to a play that he and his wife will not be able to see. Tracy takes his coworker Lyle (Scott Lincoln), who ends up sleeping throughout. At the play, Tracy is mesmerized by the lead male actor, Truman Hope (William Baldwin). His strength, his charm, the way he makes the ladies swoon inspires Tracy to want to become an actor, too. Luckily, Truman also teaches an acting class, which Tracy enrolls in with high hopes of being just like him one day.
We then see Tracy’s homelife. He lives with his adult sister Peggy (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and mother(Kathleen Quinlan). His mother criticizes him about his weight and seems extraordinarily bitter. Peggy, though simple and immature, shows both of them love and tries to keep the peace.
Meanwhile, back at the store, Kendis Cooley (Vincent Caso) is hired and Tracy trains him. Vincent Caso makes his film debut in American Fork, and his acting is truly amazing. He’s a natural and will definitely be on to big things from here. Kendis tells Tracy he’s had a bit of trouble at school and asks if Tracy will speak to his principal pretending to be his father.
Tracy does so and then meets Kendis’ small group of troublemaking friends. Tracy looks at them as young people he wants to hang out with, take to church, and be a positive role model for them. In reality, they get him to buy them beer and cigarettes, and to take them places.
From there, a story is woven that includes, selfishness, betrayal, envy, disappointment, regret, and many more very real characteristics that revolve around the choices we make as kids, young adults, and parents. We see how one relatively weak choice snowballs into many terrible consequences. We see how weak choices long ago have lead to a life of regret and bitterness, and we see how good intentions and being a good person can be painful, but usually has a better outcome than the opposite.
American Fork is a story that could happen in any small city in America…and probably does. It has a grey mood throughout, but there is a lot of humor in many unexpected places. The acting by all characters is phenomenal. Even the small part of Helen (Rae Ritke) is so well done and her character is pivotal in several scenes. The writing is detailed, focused, and provides incredibly indepth insight into the minds of the characters without a lot of talking.
Viewers are taken into the life of an average person who, through a series of good but misplaced intentions and poor choices, ends up in places and amongst people he clearly never imagined he would be.

American Fork leaves the viewer with a sense of “that’s life,” but more than that, the knowledge that even when things go very badly, you can get through them and move on. Sometimes, that’s really all you can do.

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originally posted: 03/19/07 21:30:13
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Slamdance Film Festival For more in the 2007 Slamdance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Florida Film Festival For more in the 2007 Florida Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/11/07 marcia wonderfully written, acted 5 stars
4/15/07 dimestore intellectual a not-so-small story, well told 4 stars
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