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Reviews & Ratings for
Ithaca More at IMDbPro »

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19 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

sometimes the right ingredients still don't work

Author: David Ferguson ( from Dallas, Texas
9 September 2016

Greetings again from the darkness. The source material is the 1943 novel "The Human Comedy" from Pulitzer Prize winning writer William Saroyan; and it's the directorial debut of Meg Ryan, the one-time 'America's Sweetheart' who reunites with her Sleepless in Seattle co-star Tom Hanks (in a ghostly cameo). Due to these juicy ingredients, we can be excused if our expectations are a bit high.

As a viewer, it's easy to relate to the emotions of young Homer McCauley (Alex Neustaedter) as his messenger job expedites the disillusionment that often accompanies adulthood. While Homer becomes more disenchanted the more he learns, we feel let down with each successive sequence. The adapted screenplay from Eric Jendresen never picks a direction, and instead teases us with numerous pieces from the novel with little follow through on any.

Homer's dad (a very brief Tom Hanks apparition) has recently passed, and with his older brother Marcus (Jack Quaid, son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid) off at war, Homer takes it upon himself to secure a job to help support his saintly and melancholy mother (Meg Ryan), his older sister Bess (Christine Nelson) and his little brother Ulysses (an energetic Spencer Howell). He pledges to be the best bicycle messenger ever when hired at the local telegraph company run by Tom Spangler (Hamish Linklater) and old-timer (grumpy and frequently inebriated) Willie (Sam Shepard).

Being that it's war time, some of the telegraphs Homer must deliver are the worst possible news for the parents on the receiving end. As the film progresses, we see the light slowly go out of Homer's once bright eyes. The accelerated coming-of-age aspect is at its best when his father-figure Willie brusquely tells him "You are 14 years old and you're a man! I don't know who made you that way." It's the most poignant moment of the film and the closest we get to a real theme.

The letters Homer receives from older brother Marcus contribute to his understanding of the world and the reading of the letters serves the purpose of story narration. The film is nostalgic and idealistic, but so unfocused that we are never able to fully connect with any of the characters. We are caught off guard when Homer proclaims his mother as the nicest person ever, although she has offered even less guidance than Forrest Gump's mom. Ithaca, Ulysses, and Homer … we can't miss the mythology ties, as well as the importance of home, but it always feels like something is missing.

In 1943, six time Oscar nominee Clarence Brown made a movie based on this same novel, and the cast included Mickey Rooney, Frank Morgan, Donna Reid and Van Johnson. In this new version, John Mellencamp provides the musical score, and Ms. Ryan has stated that the novel helped her work through a difficult time in her personal life. She's likely to get more opportunities to direct; her first outing is easy enough to watch, but just as easy to forget.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A subtle moving piece of entertainment.

Author: Ernie Charles from United States
14 September 2016

It shows the innocence of a younger son, an older son grown up, and a middle son Homer becoming aware of what real life is as he delivers telegrams to the mothers of sons who will not be coming back home from the war alive. Homer grows up as he sees the pain of life.

An old man named Will Grogan receives and types the telegrams. Mr. Grogan drinks to help deal with his pain of sending this information to families in the community.

The movie shows us how war may effect us. It makes you realize the front line of war can be just as difficult at home as they try to continue with life.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

I got this film

Author: mzmuddlepants from Nottingham
17 September 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have to write a review on this film as I watched it not knowing anything about the book nor the director. I felt the essence of this film plus the heartbreak of WW2 from start to finish. I also thought the acting was superb. I would of liked to have known how exactly the father had died but all in all the film still kept my interest and my heart sank just enough at the end for the film to linger in my thoughts for a while afterwards. To then find out that Meg Ryan had in fact directed it made me wonder if she, just like Angelina would be dragged through the coals and unfortunately I was correct. What does a woman have to do in this day and age to prove her worth as a director? Anyway I think the IMDb rating, in time, will do just that. Well done Meg!

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A plot that goes nowhere

Author: Gordon-11 from Earth
1 November 2016

This film tells the story of a fourteen year old boy, who takes up the job as a messenger to deliver telegraphs back in the dark times of the second world war.

The book might have been touching, but this film unfortunately does not work. The story does not seen to go anywhere. It doesn't develop the characters, and viewers don't understand why any of the characters are at the point that they are at. Why does the boy need to take up a job? Why does the older guy drink so much? What about the other messenger? The lack of background information makes me feel distant from the characters.

It takes forty minutes of screen time to deliver the second telegraph. That's way too long for a film about a boy delivering telegraphs. The film could have explored more on how the sad telegraphs affected him, so there's wasted opportunity. I watched the film for Tom Hanks, and I don't even recall him having said a word!

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A little guy on a bike and a lot of sad telegrams.That's it.

Author: Peter Pluymers ( from Kortessem, Belgium
30 September 2016

"Okay, the faster you deliver messages, the more you can deliver. The faster you pick up outgoing messages, the more we can send. The more we can send, the better our chances of beating western union and staying alive. We're postal telegraph. We get there swiftly. We're polite to everyone. We take off our hats in elevators and above all things, we never lose a telegram."

"Wow!" I thought for a minute. A drama with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks demonstrating their skills once more. Is it a sequel to the masterful romantic comedy "You've got mail"? Well, it's about sending messages for sure. But Tom Hanks won't send a lot of messages anymore. Or he's sending them from the afterlife. It's the era before the internet even existed. These were the happy days without spam or ransom-ware. But to deliver the telegram within an acceptable time frame, the telegraph services needed young boys who could ride a bike swiftly enough. And since "Ithaca" is situated during the 2nd World War, with lots of American boys fighting on the European continent, it's no surprise most of the messages brought no good news.

And that's something Homer Macauley (Alex Neustaedter) is facing. He's betting his life on being the fastest courier on bike ever. Despite the fact that he's racing back and forth like a kind of Cavendish the whole movie, the film on its own is rather slow. Biggest surprise was the rather limited contribution by Tom Hanks. Was he doing Meg Ryan (debuting here as a director) a favor? Or was it just to stir up the former movie chemistry? In contrast, the film was hugely predictable. I could guess early on in the film which fate Homer was quickly sprinting towards. I know it wasn't the intention to create a mysterious puzzle. But I was hoping for a little surprise. Ultimately, it's once again about fear and hope. Left behind families waiting for some news from their sons who are sent to war. And this combined with the story about a boy, who's confronted with the less pleasant events in life, while delivering these messages.

Because of the short playing time, Meg Ryan failed to unravel the fragile personality of Homer in an orderly manner. His leap to adulthood is fairly abruptly after the death of his father and the departure of his older brother. A brother who writes terribly long letters while on his way to the front, in such a prosaic writing style that it seems as if he wants to win a Pulitzer prize. The occasional reading of excerpts from these letters probably was meant to bring drama into the film. Eventually, I thought it was quite disturbing. A short playing time with a variety of story lines results in unfinished and "fast dealt with" pieces. The loss of a father figure, the responsibility as the eldest son, dutifully performing a job as a courier, the disastrous reports, war scenes, the drama of an old telegraph operator and a mother who occasionally experiences "Sixth Sense" situations. And then there are a few minor (but briefly quoted) secondary plots. It's all a bit too much.

The acting isn't really bad. But it seems like everyone is groping in the dark about his character. Especially Homer's boss Tom Spangler (Hamish Linklater) is such a blurred figure. We can be brief about Ryan and Hanks. As brief as their actual playing time. It's negligible. I only enjoyed the performances of Alex Neustaedter (obvious of course), Sam "Midnight Special" Shepard and the cute Ulysses (Spencer Howell) whose cuddle factor is very high. Especially Shepard makes a momentary impression. A brilliant and intriguing character. Eventually this coming of age story during the war makes a fairly comatose impression. It isn't really vivid.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Slow and thoughtful

Author: bousozoku from United States
10 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Typical, popular movies are a combination of profanity and some degree of nudity, along with some action and special effects. This is not one of those. This is not even rated PG-13. You realize at that point that the story is everything.

Since I wasn't alive during World War II, I cannot speak to the conditions, but being a little kid in the 1960s, I suspect that life had only changed a little.

As the movie begins, there is a recording of Pres. FDR and it is somewhat difficult for me to hear, as I am Japanese. I have often avoided WWII-related movies.

However, this movie is about dealing with life and death, while growing up.

The main character is hopeful, but naive. Homer realizes that his work seemed simple but in the deep of things, dealing with real life is not so sweet. $15 per week seems really high pay, maybe three times what I expected.

There isn't a lot of chemistry between the actors but it is enough to keep the story going. Claiming Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks sells the film but they have minimal roles. Alex Neustaedter has big shoes to fill and does fine in general.

I felt a great deal when Homer delivered the death notices to the families. He certainly felt a great deal.

It's somewhat obvious that the film is not at the high end of the scale. There are mistakes. However, how do you get the high end right now without profanity and at least some nudity? If you place yourself into the film's era, it can work because life was slower then.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The most soviet movie from all American movies ever

Author: shmailmail from 11213
28 November 2016


The most soviet movie from all American movies ever. So genuine,that IMHO even does not need translation.

I do remember those woman that afraid of postman even 20-30 years after war ended . I remember this letter in my late grandmother documents.

We do not have telegrams for this purpose in the soviet union but every house have this letters. Just imagine that from the man's born from 1923 to 1927 only 5% survive and most of the survivors was injured, disabled

So it hard to watch, but thanks

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A good movie that is worth seeing, but you spend the entire time waiting for one thing to happen and it ultimately distracts you

Author: Tony Heck ( from United States
27 September 2016

"I don't know what's ahead, but whatever it is I am humbly ready for it." Homer Macauley (Neustaedter) has just watched his brother go off to fight in WWII and wants to do anything he can to help. He decides the best way for him to help his family is to get a job. He decides to become a bicycle telegraph messenger, and sets out to be the best and fastest one anyone has ever seen. Soon after he begins he is given a message that changes everything, and his job becomes more important than he ever imagined. This is a movie that I am very torn about. On one hand the movie has tremendous heart and leaves you hoping the movie won't end the way you expect it to. The acting is great and this is a very good character study of how the war affected the relatives stateside. On the other hand, you have a prediction on how the movie will end and you are just waiting for it to come to fruition. The fact that you think this way distracts you from the movie and the emotion of every other aspect seems to be lost and glossed over. I didn't think the movie was that bad and it is worth seeing, but about a year ago a movie called Little Boy came out and that was far better than this one. Overall, a good movie that is worth seeing, but you spend the entire time waiting for one thing to happen and it ultimately distracts you from the rest of the movie. I give this a B-.

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A big mushy mess

Author: darcek from Israel
2 January 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What a gushy mess...

This whole film felt for me like someone,grabbed all the elements of a movie,thrown them into a blender..and pop this was the result...

It became first hard to follow the line of story,where is the past..what is the present..or future?

Characters are been introduced at random.. Get some good plot line,for couple of minutes.. Then something else popes in.. The whole film making is very good.Like a triple A movie. The actors are good,but it doesn't help this blundering mess. The lights ,the costumes,it all comes together,the structure is solid but it feels like no one is at home. This started to get really frustrating as the movie progressed..

Other problems:Tom Hanks shown here as a lead actor.He only say 2 words the whole film...what the hell? maybe he was used as a gimmick to pull viewers to watch this. Meg Ryan acting was good,problem is her face suffered so many surgeries,it looks like a freaking death mask,and didn't help with the character of a gentle loving mom...She could do some scary ghost or some horror film,but this totally didn't work for me(I kept getting deja vu from sleepless in Seattle,where she was pretty and her beauty was like pure and naive,slaughtered by all these surgeries)

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Not for sale

Author: reydman from canada
10 December 2016

It is good to see that there is movies made not for sale. Movies that bring some meaning and help to think. My English is poor so I cant good express myself, but I hope main point is clear. This movie will make you think,will leave something after to think about. And it is much deeper that it looks at the first time. War is big problem, and it is still actual , right now there is so many fights, pain, destroyed families, and people avoid to think about it. It is not fun, it is not comfortable, it is better pretend that its not exist. Thats why I think this kind of films will make word a bit better. Thanks to everyone who invested to this film.

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