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When their dad dies unexpectedly, estranged siblings Russell, Jane and their adopted brother, Alex, come home to tend to his remains. The three must overcome their differences to achieve a ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
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Russell Sawtelle
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Jane Sawtelle
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Alex Sawtelle (as Lucas K. Peterson)
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Hailie Tyler
Ben Hethcoat ...
Brandon Blake
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Eli Casey
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Jon Jones
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Tom Sasinowski ...
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When their dad dies unexpectedly, estranged siblings Russell, Jane and their adopted brother, Alex, come home to tend to his remains. The three must overcome their differences to achieve a proper goodbye and discover what it means to be a family without their dad. Written by Anonymous

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The perfect goodbye doesn't exist.

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Comedy | Drama

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11 October 2012 (USA)  »

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An Emotional and Beautiful Independent Film
21 April 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It would be easy to discount Dead Dad as just another independent film, made on the cheap by a bunch of talented, albeit relatively inexperienced, young people. But to do so, would be a deep disservice to this intimate, expertly crafted film. Recently debuting at the Florida Film Festival in Orlando, I had the opportunity to take in this fine feature, and I'm very glad that I did.

Independent film is at its best when it tells a tight, focused story that doesn't try to do too much or overreach. The audience can usually tell when a movie is trying to be sentimental for the sake of it, cheapening the overall tone of the film. Impressively, Dead Dad avoids this pitfall, something that is particularly surprising when you consider the subject matter of the movie.

Explaining what kind of film Dead Dad is difficult. At its core, it's a drama. One that centers around the unexpected death of the unseen father figure and the reunion between three estranged but not entirely unattached siblings who serve as co-leads in the film. The driving force of the movie is about finding an appropriate place for the siblings to spread their father's ashes, but the story is nowhere near as morose or depressing as it really could be.

Instead, Dead Dad operates under the strength of the chemistry of its young stars. Their relationship – sometimes loving, sometimes resentful – is nothing if not believable, which justifies the movie on its own. Scenes where they're doing nothing but drinking and reconnecting are among the most endearing moments of the film. It feels real - something that was clearly a priority for the filmmakers. Moreover, the fact that these actors are able to get the audience to believe them and take them seriously and empathize with them as individuals is even more amazing, if you keep in mind that the entire film was made in a handful of weeks.

From a technical standpoint, Dead Dad is, frankly, astounding. While the writing is very strong and the acting is honestly better than you'll see in some major motion pictures, everyone that I talked to after the premiere was raving about the production value of the movie. It was just beautifully shot and wonderfully edited. Featuring some fantastic set locations and innovative shot selection, Dead Dad is nothing if not pretty (even when it's not).

Perhaps the strongest endorsement that I can give to Dead Dad is that on the two hour drive home to St. Pete, I felt compelled to call my own sister and reconnect. It hadn't been too long, but it suddenly seemed more important than ever. If Dead Dad doesn't get a wide distribution, it'll be a shame, but I have an inkling that this won't be the last time you hear from Ken Adachi, Kyle Arrington, and the rest of the cast and crew.

If you have a chance to see Dead Dad, do so. This is what film making is supposed to be all about.


16 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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