10/09/2007

I'm Reed Fish

Director: Zackary Adler

The key to making oneself immortal is writing a script where the main character not only has your exact same name (following the old adage to “write what you know") but also uses your very life as jumping off point for a plot worthy of cinema. However, keeping your name in the title may be a slight turn off as witnessed in the forgettably titled I’m Reed Fish, an otherwise surprisingly charming little indie brought to DVD thanks to Netflix. Jay Baruchel earned a Film Discovery Jury Award from the 2007 US Comedy Arts Festival for this delightful, loosely autobiographical coming-of-age romance about a young man in his early twenties who must decide the direction he wants to go in life instead of simply following in the footsteps of his deceased father and trying not to let down his entire small town. When we first meet Reed, he’s nearly late for work as he runs nearby and slides into the chair of the local radio station where he hosts the same talk show his father had for as long as the town of Mud Meadows can remember. Engaged to beautiful Kate Peterson (Alexis Bledel) whom he is scheduled to marry in three weeks, Reed’s world is turned upside down by the arrival of Jill (Sissy Spacek’s daughter Schuyler Fisk), the girl he’d been in love with back in high school who begins spending time with Reed and stirring up old romantic feelings. While admittedly a young love story that develops into a triangle prior to a wedding is nothing new in independent cinema, this film sneaks up on you—it’s a light, sunny and welcoming picture that benefits from its homey setting. Although shot on location in Big Bear, California, Reed’s home of Mud Meadows seems like it would make a great setting for a television show and calls to mind other favorite locales such as Northern Exposure’s Cicely, Alaska and Ed’s Stuckeyville, Ohio or even Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow, Connecticut (also starring Bledel). All of this warm and inviting aura along with an entirely likable young cast help keep us watching, especially lead actor Baruchel who is quite a find, fully embracing his nerdy, stuttering but sweet character. Unfortunately Reed is bogged down by a strange plot structure which calls attention to itself after twenty minutes or so as we learn that we’re dealing with the ambitious (but rarely successful) attempt to make a movie within a movie. While it should be applauded that the filmmakers tried to break the mold of a traditional or clich├ęd young love story, the film was a minor but addictive story on its own accord and would’ve done much better without any of the forced twists or irony.