Will (Josh Hopkins), a charming 35-year-old Philadelphia ad man, heads to Lebanon, Pa. to bury his recently deceased father. He forms an unexpected friendship with CJ (Rachel Kitson), his ...
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Will (Josh Hopkins), a charming 35-year-old Philadelphia ad man, heads to Lebanon, Pa. to bury his recently deceased father. He forms an unexpected friendship with CJ (Rachel Kitson), his bright, newly pregnant 17-year-old cousin. As Will becomes interested in CJ's married teacher (Samantha Mathis) and CJ confronts her conflicted father, both struggle with formidable decisions about the path their lives will take. Can we vault our differences and meet in the middle? This bittersweet comic drama tenderly explores the cultural divide in America through the lives of one extended family. Written by
At the funeral scene, the pastor pronounces the town name phonetically. However, true locals of Lebanon, PA and the vast surrounding area use a vernacular that pronounces the city's name as Leb-a-NIN. See more »
Very well acted drama with some underlying messages...
They bill this film as a comedy/drama, but don't be fooled, it is a drama through and through. There are light injections of humor sprinkled about, but not much. It is a bittersweet movie with some solid performances by all. It gets a bit preachy, which kind of threw me off a little, but it doesn't try to beat you over the head with one simplistic idea.
Will (Hopkins) is in advertising and gets word that his father has passed away. He has to travel to a small town called Lebanon in Pennsylvania to bury his father. While there, he meets the neighbors, who also happen to be family. Distant family, but family nonetheless. There's Andy (Peakes), his daughter CJ (Kitson in her film debut) and son Chase (Gallagher). They take pity on him for losing his father, invite him to dinner and that's where we first see that his and their values are different. Big city against little city. Lebanon is very much a part of the Bible Belt. If you don't have religion, then you really don't have anything at all. Will takes some time out for himself at a local pub and meets Vicki (Mathis) while drowning his sorrows. They don't automatically wind up in bed, if that's what you're thinking. No, this is a real film, not a Hollywood cliché. The relationship grows and lines are crossed before anything ever happens between the two. Meanwhile, CJ confides in Will because she's afraid to tell her father her secret -- that she's pregnant. And being where they are and the values they have... she has a very difficult decision to make.
Lebanon, Pa. started out fine enough. I liked the idea of going from big city to small town (the camera shows a close up of a parking meter in Philadelphia that reads "Quarter buys 15mins" and in Lebanon a meter reads "Quarter buys 7.5 hours"). I liked having Will being conflicted over his stay-or-go mentality after being in the town for a few days. I liked that he learned more and more about his father while cleaning his house out. I even liked the relationship that he had with his distant cousin CJ and that she bonded with him out of the gate. There were many things to like about this movie. It was real, it even had some very light humor in it. The story did move a bit slow at times and there were a couple of instances where I wanted Hopkin's character do the exact opposite of what he just did. If he was reserved in one scene, I wanted him to react to what was happening and so forth.
Fine acting across the board on this one, there's not a bad apple among the cast. It just may have you thinking your stance on some political issues, though, whether you want it to or not. I don't think it tries to lean one way or the other and no matter what the character CJ does with her pregnancy, it's going to upset somebody somewhere. It's a bittersweet movie about choices and the consequences that happens when we make up our minds on those choices. More reviews at www.soveryterry.com Final Grade: B-
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