Lebanon, Pa. (2011)
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Critic Reviews for Lebanon, Pa.
Since the crux of the tale is a teenager's decision about an unwanted pregnancy, "Lebanon, Pa." can't possibly please everyone. But Hickernell doesn't strain to be provocative.
Not perfect, but vastly superior to most of the Hollywood dreck we've been getting lately, Lebanon, Pa. is a thoughtful and perceptive film well worth recommending.
As long as the pic remains rooted in a specific locale's rhythms, it imparts a sense of discovery; but when local color wears thin, bald ideological small-town/big-city oppositions intrude.
Plays out like one of those dull message movies that TV networks used to crank out almost weekly, but the earnestness is at times almost appealingly old-fashioned.
Kitson, who plays CJ, the mouthy, forthright teenager at the center of the storm, illuminates a movie that is otherwise so studiously balanced an examination of teenage pregnancy that it deserves a medal for evenhandedness.
Audience Reviews for Lebanon, Pa.
I actually liked this nice, touching, thought provoking little film. Made me smile at the end, and I like when movies do that. I really liked the scene where they set the boat free. There was something very comforting about that. Maybe I should try it....
Cast: Josh Hopkins, Samantha Mathis, Mary Beth Hurt, Rachel Kitson, Ian Merrill Peakes
Director: Ben Hickernell
Summary: Urbane Philadelphia ad man Will (Josh Hopkins) heads to small-town Lebanon for his father's funeral, and the road leads not only to closure but to a revelation when the 35-year-old meets his precocious teenage cousin, CJ (Rachel Kitson), and her winsome teacher, Vicki (Samantha Mathis). As his friendship with CJ deepens and his warmth for the married Vicki grows, Will comes to realize that life can't always be summed up in a catchphrase.
My Thoughts: "The film was OK. The story is one we've seen before. I didn't like the camera work at all. There was too many very close, close ups. I also didn't like how half of the faces were sometimes on the screen or not at all. Besides that, I did find CJ's story the most interesting. I thought Rachel Kitson portrayed her character CJ very honestly. Her story in the film is quite heart breaking. Not everyone is going to like the outcome of her story. Will is trying to grieve a father he really didn't know because he was brought up to hate him by his mother. The scene with them at the cemetery was pivotal for Will. He gets to confront her and she comes off a bit selfish and only worried about herself and still not owning what she did to her son. I thought Josh Hopkins did a good job in his role. Not the best indie film I have seen, but surely not the worse one either."
A mildly preachy, slightly provocative film that unfolds in Pennsylvania ... one of the most politically diverse states in the union. The central character, Will (a nice dramatic turn from "Cougar Town's" Josh Hopkins), hails from Philadelphia (a blue mecca) and returns home to the rural burg of Lebanon (a red haven) to bury his father. While in town for the burial, Will meets his teenage cousin who reveals to him that she is pregnant. As she has applied for college in the fall, she hasn't decided what she is going to do about the pregnancy. After her boyfriend finds out she is with child, he abandons her and makes her believe it was all her doing. This hot button issue isn't perhaps the best storyline for a film as politics are generally handled, watched and discussed in the privacy of one's own home. I did appreciate how neither side is painted as monsters and the decision isn't ever treated lightly; but ... again, this is supposed to be a movie. While some drama is true-to-life, I like there to be some escapist elements in my film that I watch. I don't want a moral conundrum placed before me as I chow down on popcorn ... can we say out of touch? Not once does this film take a Bible and slap one alongside the face which is what happens to some of the preachy, message-movies I have come across ... and I appreciated that. Perhaps that is why the film takes place in Lebanon ... looking at a map one can see that the filmmakers literally had hundreds of small towns to chose from; but by chosing a town sharing a name with a typically tyrannized nation (for NO reason as a large portion of Lebanese follow the same religion as those casting judgement upon them) the filmmakers might have been making another offhand statement. This wasn't BAD and I have seen worse; but it isn't worthy of my recommendation, either.
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