Virgil Films // 2011 // 81 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dawn Hunt // December 12th, 2012
"Join the fight to save the last small town rock club!"
Mr. Hartman (Richard Chamberlain, Shogun) runs the only bar in town. He and the bar are equally beloved by the townspeople, but his family is another story. Oldest sister Diana (Jennifer Restivo) is a Manhattan lawyer too busy with career and bratty younger sister Pam (Audrey Sawaya) to worry about her father or his club. That is, until dear old dad collapses. Then Hartman's daughters swoop into town (after a ten year absence) and decide to up and sell the club.
That's when they meet the resistance, led by ex-Marine Jordan (Ben Curtis), former teen mom Layla (Brie Eley), and Morgan (Joy Suprano) whose claim to fame is that she's the ex-girlfriend of Baxter (Jonah Spear), resident local boy turned rock star. The trio rallies the locals to put on a benefit concert in order to buy the bar from the Hartman siblings.
We Are the Hartmans may be a straightforward tale, but it's littered with stereotypes. Aside from Chamberlain's Hartman, the cast of characters reads (and performs) like a Film Studies 101 class. There's the redneck, drag queens, the lawyer, and the hippies, none of which transcend their respective roles. What could have been a quirky, charming, fast-paced film about the definition of family, is nothing more than a paint-by-numbers exercise. There is no subtext to explore and we know how it will end from the beginning. And I had such high hopes for this one.
Presented in standard def 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, there are no technical problems with the transfer though a flat palette doesn't help. I was surprised by the Dolby 2.0 Stereo track, in that this is a well-balanced music-heavy film that avoids suffering from any of the issues a lower level Dolby mix can betray. The ADR and music cues never echoed or sounded like they were in their own space. Bonus features include a music video, trailer, and a short film from director Laura Newman that provides a brief glimpse into the Occupy Wall Street movement, specifically the eviction of the protestors in Zuccotti Park.
Richard Chamberlain exists in a different movie from the rest of the cast. As such, We are the Hartmans is less of a gem and more a lump of coal that never becomes the diamond it could have been. Go ahead and give it a (puff, puff) pass.
Guilty of losing sight of what could have been.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Virgil Films
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Music Video
* Short Film