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Thursday, June 9, 2016

SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP -- Movie Review by Porfle

Sometime-actress Malindi Fickle (she's been in four movies thus far) has made a solid directing/writing/editing debut with the engrossing ensemble drama SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP (2014, Indican Pictures).  She displays a sure hand throughout in each department and the result is an impressive as well as effortlessly entertaining low-budget indy gem.

Also in the film's favor is a top-notch cast including Robyn Ross as Ellie Holman, a pregnant emergency room nurse trying to juggle dementia-stricken father-in-law Willis (Steven Durgarn) and rebellious teen daughter Jackie ("introducing" Lacy Marie Meyer) who spends too much time with the wrong people, doing the wrong things.

When Jackie comes up $300 short for her next fix, she calls daddy Joe (Gregory Konow) and tells him she needs the cash quick due to a dire emergency.  Joe goes into panic mode and hits the street to raise the money, with Ellie and Willis along for the frantic ride.

What he doesn't tell Ellie is that he secretly suspects the truth--that Jackie is hanging out getting more drunk and stoned by the minute with her friends, including dealer Devin (Brian Stuart Boyd) and nominal boyfriend Sam (Alex Raymond).

The two interlocking storylines yield much interesting drama of the naturalistic (as opposed to stagey and theatrical) variety that gets more engaging as the film goes along.  Joe and Ellie are a good couple with a realistic, slightly prickly relationship, while Jackie and her friends are the epitome of stoned-out losers who are funny and pathetic at the same time. 

They spend their time playing cards and drinking stolen booze from Sam's mother's liquor cabinet while also trying to mooch drugs off of stingy Devin, with Jackie's desperation to "get well" growing more urgent by the minute. 

They're so ridiculous (in a "this could really happen" kind of way) that they even invoke the Three Stooges in trying to solve the toothache problem of friend Rusty (Matthew Goodrich) by tying one end of a cord to his tooth and the other end to a doorknob.  (Shauna Marie Burris plays Rusty's concerned girlfriend.) A frantic Jackie manages to mess up even this cartoonish exploit with bloody results.

One of the things I liked best about this movie is that it doesn't need the usual "Oscar" moments to hold our attention.  The cast and dialogue keep us right in the story just by being recognizably real, even in some of the more out-there instances such as Ellie and Joe almost getting arrested by gun-toting cops when they appear to be kidnapping a screaming Jackie. 

After the two subplots have finally come together (or rather, "collided") the setting moves to the emergency room where things try to work themselves out. We're never quite sure where the story's going to wind up, and the movie itself seems to be finding out as it goes along as well. 

There are no profound revelations, and the fadeout comes while we're still looking for a definite resolution.  The fact is, SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP is a slice-of-life tale, but it's a nice big slice with a candle on it. 

Runtime: 81 minutes
Format: 1:85 Flat
Genre: Drama
Sound: Dolby SR
Country: USA
Language: English

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