Director: Jeff Hare
Jeff Hare’s unusual film, adapted from Allen Swift’s play by screenwriter Richard Marcus turns what could easily have been a melancholy piece about a man in his nineties who invites his three adult children to his Manhattan apartment for one last soiree before he plans to take his own life, into a quirky, winning and surprisingly life-affirming comedy filled with heart and unexpected warmth. Peter Falk is wonderful as a former actor and thespian who wants to end his richly lived life on his own terms instead of succumbing to an inauspicious and typical elderly death in a hospital or nursing home. The three actors playing his offspring—Judge Reinhold, David Paymer and especially Laura San Giacomo match Falk’s exuberance and spirit well and while it never fully loses the original staginess of the play, it’s a lot of fun once you get past the Harold and Maude-esque morbid premise and realize that all of the characters, including Falk’s, will undergo profound changes as the film evolves. Winner of several critical awards including Best Picture and Screenplay at the 2005 Phoenix Film Festival, Checking Out also earned recognition for director Hare and actress Giacomo (Palm Beach Film Festival) and was also named the Best Comedy Film at Houston’s Worldfest. Surprisingly funny and filled with wonderful dialogue and great moments, Hare's Checking Out helps reaffirm the human commitment to keep moving forward and the realization that the most precious motivator in life is our ability and gift to inspire and encourage others.