Let me just start by saying this - I generally don't prefer dramas, as I often find them slow. Don't get me wrong, dramas like Elizabeth, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Once Were Warriors, Almost Famous, The Danish Girl, Little Miss Sunshine...these dramas really moved me. There are other dramatic films I love as well (too many to list here). However, I find MANY dramas to be way too slow for my liking and therefore, this particular genre is rarely my first choice when selecting a movie to watch. I'm guessing I'm in the minority with this personal preference. But, I don't really care.
I wasn't expecting Sidney Hall to be great. I had heard what the story was about, so I knew it would be good, but I also knew it was only Shawn Christensen's second feature film as a director. I expected something good, something decent. I never expected, however, to be moved to tears. Actual projectile tears and sobbing.
I'm not going to tell you exactly what this story is about. I recommend you see Sidney Hall for yourself. What I WILL tell you, is how it made me feel while watching it and the effect the movie had on me in general. This is how I rate a movie - emotional and thought provoking impact.
So, let me go back...to the beginning of the movie. Almost right from the onset, I found myself laughing out loud and my constant giggling continued as the story carried on. The script is excellent and I found some of the conversations between the actors to be outright hysterical. Ever since I saw Birdcage, Nathan Lane has always managed to bring a huge smile to my face. And he did that again here in Sidney Hall. Lane is an exceptionally talented comedic actor and he appears to do this effortlessly. He just IS that funny. All of the actors did an exceptional job in this film. Michelle Monaghan's character portrayal of Logan Lerman's mother filled me with rage. And Logan Lerman, Blake Jenner and Kyle Chandler's performances were outstanding. Their story arcs and personal struggles in Sidney Hall consumed me.
Moving on to my projectile crying - Again, I didn't expect this movie to be great, so I thought it was safe to put a lot of makeup on before going to the premier. I simply did not anticipate this film having such an emotional impact on me. I was so, SO wrong. I had one napkin in my purse...just one, and I needed several more to soak up the tear filled mascara that continually streaked down my face. But the woman sitting next to me (a girl friend of mine) was crying so hard as well, that I felt compelled to tear my ONE napkin into pieces so she could have some relief, too.
I saw Shawn Christensen's raw talent as a director (and actor) when I watched his short film Curfew. It was impressive, to say the least. I also watched his first feature film Before I Disappear and while I did LIKE the latter, it didn't jump off the screen for me. Don't get me wrong, Before I Disappear isn't a bad movie (I've seen a lot of BAD movies). It was good, but in my personal opinion, it wasn't great.
In Sidney Hall, the story, the acting, the camera angles, the music composition, the EMOTIONS Christensen captured and evoked from those actors...ripped my heart right out of my chest. I have never personally experienced exactly what Sidney went through, but I related to him and what he was dealing with on so many different levels. This story broke my heart into pieces when I realized the film was going to end with him dying. I thought, no f*cking way!! This guy HAS to have SOME relief, SOME good, positive, happy things happen to him....before he leaves us. But Christensen and his writing partner, Jason Dolan, didn't do that with Sidney Hall. This movie wreaked havoc on my emotions. Sidney's story didn't just grab my heart out of my chest...it stomped all over it. And for this, I'm GRATEFUL.
While I love happy endings, I respect and admire directors (and writers) that have the courage to withhold spoon-fed happiness as the story comes to an end. In my opinion, this takes guts.
I watch a lot of movies. And I tend to watch the movies I like more than once; sometimes, even many times. Before writing this review, I wanted to get a fairly accurate account of just how many movies I watch a year. Last year in particular, I watched between 80-100 movies, give or take. There are a considerable amount of good movies out there and there are even great ones that have you thinking about them for days, months and even years after seeing them.
Sidney Hall is one of those great movies. I saw it over a month ago and I still think about it. The story is still present in my mind. It took my breath away. Maybe that sounds like a cliché...but again, I don't really care...because it's the truth.
Thank you to the director, writers, actors, and to everyone else who worked on this film. I thank you for stomping on my heart and for what you all gave me (and my friends) the night I saw the movie...and for what you gave so many of us with Sidney Hall. I'll be watching this film again and again...and again.