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Occupy, Texas
Occupy, Texas (2016)
  • Director:
    Jeff Barry
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Gene Gallerano,Gene Gallerano
  • Cast:
    Janine Turner,Peri Gilpin,Lorelei Linklater
  • Time:
    1h 33min
  • Year:
'Let's bring this shizz home!' Beau Baker, a washed out 'Occupy, Wall Street' protester, is woken up on the streets of NYC with news that his parents died and that he must return home to Texas where his parents have left him in charge of his two teenage sisters and their estate. This sets Beau off on a journey to search for and find the strength to reunite with his sisters, his past and himself.
Credited cast:
Janine Turner Janine Turner - Mrs. Thomas
Peri Gilpin Peri Gilpin - Uma Baker
Lorelei Linklater Lorelei Linklater - Claire Baker
Paul Benjamin Paul Benjamin - Mr. Goodman
Reed Birney Reed Birney - Uncle Nolan
Nikki Moore Nikki Moore - Sherry
David Matranga David Matranga - Kelsie
Jen Ponton Jen Ponton - Harley
Kaelynn Wright Kaelynn Wright - Schoolgirl
Gail Cronauer Gail Cronauer - Principal
Luke Robertson Luke Robertson - Austin
Major Dodge Major Dodge - Dallas Occupier
Libby Villari Libby Villari - Mrs. Martin
Marissa Woolf Marissa Woolf - School Teacher
Kyla Burke Kyla Burke - Cashier

Occupy, Texas (2016)

It was filmed in Dallas, TX.

Dallas International Film Festival 2016 Greetings again from the darkness. Can you go home again? The answer is usually complicated and often a factor of one's own choices. What's clear is that those choices leave a wide range of emotions in the wake. Writer Gene Gallerano and director Jeff Barry share the story of Beau Baker, a young man who 7 years ago, walked away from his comfortable suburban lifestyle and a bright future as a lawyer.

When first we meet Beau, he is sleeping on the streets of New York … awakened by a gentle foot nudge from his Uncle Nolan (Reed Birney, VP on "House of Cards"). Beau reluctantly agrees to return home when he is informed that his parents have recently died in a car crash. See, after Beau left home, he joined the Occupy Wall Street movement, and just never returned home after the movement fizzled.

Once back in Texas, Beau is informed that he is the executor of his parent's estate, as well as the legal guardian for his two teenage sisters … much to the dismay of his Type-A Aunt Uma (Peri Gilpin). 17 year old Claire (Lorelei Linklater, Boyhood) and 13 year old Arden (newcomer Catherine Elvir) have mixed reactions to the reappearance of a brother they barely ever knew. Claire is angry and bitter, while Arden takes to Beau's carefree ways and avoidance of responsibility.

The film was shot in Dallas, and offers peeks at the historic Texas Theatre, the Margaret Hunt Bridge, and St. John's school. There is also a glimpse of the cultural clash between New York and Dallas, and it's provided through Beau's wardrobe and speech. Whether he can fit in with old acquaintances (including his old girlfriend Nikki Moore), and kick his carefree lifestyle to become a true role model for his sisters is the core of the film.

Writer Gene Gallerano also stars as Beau Baker, and does a nice job walking the line between selfish slacker and grown-up. The road from homeless street person to legal guardian doesn't come with a handbook, and Beau makes most every mistake possible. On the bright side, we can tell pretty early on where the character and story is headed and that it's going to be a feel good story of redemption – and overcoming the challenges that family brings. There are a couple of other interesting characters courtesy of Janine Turner (as a bored housewife drawn to Beau), and Paul Benjamin (as a wise and generous neighbor). The inconsistent sound mix doesn't affect our connection to Beau and especially Arden (in a terrific first on screen performance from young Miss Elvir). We really want what's left of this family to come together.
Occupy Texas: This Encampment Should be Broken Up

"Occupy Texas" starts on a promising note in New York City as Occupy Wall Street is fading away and Uncle Nolan comes to take Beau, Texas's least favorite son, home. His parents died in an accident, one of the most overused plot devices in modern entertainment history, and he has to go home. What might have made a more interesting movie was his refusal to go back because he hated Texas and his family. Unfortunately, he goes back and we never do learn why he left Texas for New York in the first place.

The film slides inexorably downhill when Lorelei Linklater, Claire Baker, pouts her way onto the screen. From there, the film is a series of pout fest between Beau and Claire. I'm on team Claire; she clearly has advanced training in pouting from her years filming "Boyhood." If there is ever a film made called The Big Pout, make sure to hire the daughter of director Richard Linklater, Lorelei. I was going to suggest a crowdfunding campaign to keep her out of films, but that would be cruel.

The lead Occupier of the Baker clan is older brother, Beau Baker, played by Gene Gallerano. The script is so bad in the final third of the film that I can't tell whether his acting is ham-fisted or that he is not good enough to overcome a terrible script.

Beau is about ten years older than Claire and fourteen years older than sister Arden, played by the more naturally gifted actor, Catherine Elvir. Certainly, the script makes a difference, but when Claire is called on to shout, complain, or have any emotion other than pouting, she is stiff, unnatural and over the top. Perhaps we can pair her up with Keanu Reeves in a remake of Gone with the Wind.

As for the other actors, I already mentioned that Catherine Elvir does a good job with the little the script has to offer. Peri Gilpin as Aunt Uma does decent work until she gets shrill in one of the worst endings to a film ever on the big screen. Oh, and Uncle Nolan is well portrayed by Reed Birney, but he isn't in the film long enough to have his reputation ruined.

The whiny male lead, Beau, stood for nothing and couldn't defend Occupy. It was a sad indictment of our education system. I imagine a bunch white bankers who looked down on Occupy Wall Street from their offices wrote this script as a final up yours to the idea of people working together in hard economic times.

I also imagine the film will appeal to middle aged white women who never saw a man, Beau in this case, that they didn't try to seduce. He's good looking enough, but the trampy white divorcée played by Janine Turner is just another cliché that takes us away from real emotions that the film avoids. It's one thing for a film to portray characters who are avoiding emotional trauma, but the film itself should not be void of emotions.

No one reacts in a human way. It's as if the film was written by a marketing team at the film company trying to be hip with hipster language. Moreover, the script writers apparently think teenagers in 2016 have lost the ability to use complete sentences. Even Beau tried to talk all hipster so that he could fit in with the teen girls from Texas. It's ridic, capiche?

Beau's ex-girlfriend is pretty, and she's not the worst actress in the film, but the dialogue takes us out of any heartfelt moments. With her lines like, "I couldn't breath I loved you so much," (paraphrase) one wonders what those white Wall Street writers thought of romance.

There were so many times that the characters could have come forward and shared themselves. The writers missed it. And there was no genuine exchange of thoughts in the film. It's a superficial view of a challenging situation. For more believable family drama, watch reruns of the Brady Bunch.

Seriously, the coming of age genre is difficult enough without a back to school special plot and script.

Rating: I want my money back. Hey, at least they had one black character in it, unlike Boyhood.

If you want to watch an excellent coming of age film, see Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Dope or The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Or gosh, have some fun and rewatch Napoleon Dynamite or see it for the first time.

Peace, Tex Shelters