The movie High Fidelity wanted to be
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In what turned out to be our luckiest video-store whim since stumbling across The Castle (1997/Australia), my buddie and I discovered Chillicothe. Something about the bare Midwestern landscape and the four frumpy guys on the box cover in faux-Charlie's Angel pose (who hasn't taken that picture at one time or another?) demanded a closer look.
The movie's subject is nothing new - the confusing wander-land of post-college life. High Fidelity, for one, did it with a much higher budget and a bit less heart. Yet with all High Fidelity's cynical musings on romance and rhapsodizing on the phenomenon of the mix tape, its big-city glossiness masked the sometimes social and financial desperation of 20-something life. Chillicothe is real, absurd life - the way me and my friends actually live it, driving dumpy cars, shopping crumbling strip malls, bemoaning our non-existent love lives. The guys in Chillicothe would be our next-door neighbors - if we lived in Tulsa, shopped at the Food Mart, and worked at our telemarketing jobs to afford rent on a white-walled duplex.
But far from being depressing, Chillicothe is grittily hopeful about love and aimlessness in your twenties. Sometimes the situations are so pathetically familiar, you don't know whether to laugh or crawl under your couch to hide until you're 30. The most humorous moments come from the pop-culture references on everything from Chewbacca to Jim Henson. Wade's theory on how to sell CDs for cash (sell only the ones you're sure to buy back) spawns some great lines like: "You can't sell the "Joshua Tree"! That's like selling the family Bible!"
The movie has been pegged "a chick flick for guys," mainly because these characters actually want to have relationships with women, not just sleep with them. Their inability to do either becomes the film's driving plot. When the main character's sister bugs him about his love life, Wade gets defensive and blurts out, "Why don't I date? That's like asking a blind person, `Why don't you like blue?' I have no...frame of reference!" One particularly poignant scene takes place just before one of the guys in the group gets married. The camera lingers on each friend's face just long enough to register their conflicting emotions of wistfulness, anticipation, anger and sadness. I have never seen on film a more realistic portrayal of the jealousy and ambivalence that accompany wedding attendants.
Though Chillicothe was released at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999, it's taken a few years to bubble up through the cultural mire and be picked up by a distributor. It's an art-house film, but without being "artsy". The look of the film is deceptively low-budget, but these guys made the most of what they did have. The DVD clips of their hometown gang reveals just how much Chillicothe was a labor of love. The director's commentary points out the way in which the very conscious choice of colors and camera movements serve the story on a subconscious level. The movie itself contains a hilarious send-up of the pretentious indie-film devotee, the record store clerk who sums up what's wrong with American cinema today in three words: "Happy. Dancing. Candy."
Residents of places outside of Hollywood's favored locales will recognize themselves, their streets, their shopping centers and churches in Chillicothe. Baby-boomers will probably not empathize with these characters quite as much as I and my friends have, but if you want a film that is truthful about young adult life, skip High Fidelity (John Cusak notwithstanding) and watch Chillicothe instead."
Funny, funny, funny!!!
Shelly J. Reynolds | Tulsa, OK USA | 10/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Chillicothe is a timeless, hilarious, sleeper classic - Wade, Shane (Bert & Ernie) and the rest of their pop-culture friends are true-to-life while trying to cope with life's after-college-what-do-I-do-now? hurdles. Their 'wanna-be' lives with or without quasi-love relationships, the anti-climatic wedding, Princess Leia hair, Pavlovian dog-boy, the alphabetizing of National Geographics & the question of whether or not to watch movies with or without subtitles... It's all in there - just keep your eyes on the road!"