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Sondra Martin Hicks
Four friends from the small Texas town of Dancer are graduating from high school and are planning to move to L.A. after graduation, taking the population of Dancer down to 77 from 81. All other 77 residents feel threatened by their decision and decide to spoil their plans by all means possible. Written by
Wonderful story, wonderful performances, wonderful movie
In 1998, Tim McCanlies had a crazy idea. He made a movie about a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, in which no one gets killed, nothing gets blown up, no one has sex, and there aren't any aliens from outer space. Thank goodness he saw his crazy idea through; the result is a fabulous movie that I saw in the theater in 1998, and I am not sure I have seen a better movie since then.
The setting of the movie is the fictitious town of Dancer, located in Southwest Texas, where the counties are bigger than the states in the northeast and the people are outnumbered by rattlesnakes. The movie begins on Friday, when four boys are graduating from high school. We learn that, while they were in junior high school, they made a "solemn vow" that as soon as they graduated, they were going to get on the next bus to California to make their mark on the world. Easy to say when you're in junior high, and graduation is years away. But now it's here, and the bus is pulling out on Monday morning. The question is whether any of the boys will follow through.
That's pretty much the plot. What's so special? Simple: the relationships between the boys, between each of them and their family members, and between the folks in the town. This movie, like all great movies, is about the characters' reactions to the circumstances they are in. The characters are real, fleshed out not in bold strokes but in nuances, and their actions, not always predictable, are always believable. Most of us have faced the decision whether to leave the town that we grew up in. It is fascinating to watch these teenagers begin to grow into men -- at an accelerated pace, because of their childhood pledge.
Someday, when you are at the video store and you don't know what to get, you will see this on the shelf. Get it. You will be very, very happy.
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