Two things struck me after watching this movie. First, was how much I missed storytelling in movies. It seems that the process of telling a story has taken second place behind hyperactive special effects involving, and revolving around, big box office stars. I usually leave the theater feeling like I've been pummeled with a sledge hammer, wondering if I was so dazed that I missed the plot. Heaven's Neighbors reminded me that there are still small stories to tell. Stories that are far more engaging and thoughtful than anything I've seen from the big boys in quite a while. This movie does not offer up a story about an end of the world crisis, or a far off galactic war. Instead we are served a gentle movie centering on the problems of two young men suffering from mental illness. The second point that struck me was how much I had missed real acting. Given the subject matter of most of the movies of late it's hard to notice any acting going on amid the chaos of special effects. In deference to those actors, it must be tough to try to act to something that's not there while being suspended twenty feet in the air in front of a huge green screen. However, it seems that all the "acting" I see consists mainly of screaming, yelling, unleashing a weapon (laser, pulse rifle, machine gun, etc,) upon a horrible monster, or barely hanging on to the precipice of what seems like a bottomless pit. Heaven's Neighbors is refreshing in that I get to watch actors acting and reacting to each other in an everyday environment. DJ Perry and Aaron Jackson both are outstanding leads that play well off each other and can both handle realistic emotions without falling into the trap of playing it too over the top. They are backed up by an excellent supporting cast and a solid story that gives all of them an opportunity to really act.
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