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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hollidaysburg 2014 * * * Stars

HollidaysburgDirector: Anna Martemucci
Year: 2014
Rated NR
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Rachel Keller, Tobin Mitnick, Claire Chapelli

What is it with movies that take place in Pennsylvania? They're kind of depressing. Dreary landscapes, gloom and doom skies, snow, cheap housing. If you've seen All the Right Moves, Wonder Boys, and Out of the Furnace, you know what I'm talking about. Well add 2014's Hollidaysburg to that list. This is another bleak outing filmed entirely in the Quaker State.

Directed by first timer Anna Martemucci, well acted by a cast of virtual unknowns, and harboring two female leads that almost look too identical (this will only confuse you at first), Hollidaysburg is the Generation X next, a sort of washed out, existential version of Garden State mixed with 1998's Whatever. It's a plethora of character studies involving some college students and townies who meet up for a five day Thanksgiving weekend. Scott (played by Tobin Mitnick) is a former Prom King turned UCLA student. He flies back to his Pennsylvanian hometown with the help of money via his student loans. Heather (Scott's ex-girlfriend played by Claire Chapelli) is also in town fresh from a semester at Penn State University. Then we have Petroff (Tristan Erwin) as Scott's good friend who lives at home, works at a pizza parlor, and is hush hush about his supposedly stellar SAT scores. There's Scott's brother Phil (played by Philip Quinaz) who is heavily inebriated and loves making tons of pumpkin pies. Finally, we have Rachel Keller as Tori, Scott's outsider love interest and unlikely best friend. That's the unofficial blueprint. The rest of the proceedings involve the lives of these five young adults intersecting over periods of heavy pot-smoking, binge drinking, and bad sex. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a family holiday but in this dirtied-up town, every night's a party (the cold, sentiment-free parents of these twenty-somethings are rarely seen to begin with).

Hollidaysburg gives its novice actors plenty of raunchy, suggestive dialogue that relegates a new spin on the seven dirty words (the name "poopdick" is something I've never heard before anywhere). And the loud, coffee house-induced background music sometimes drowns out these words. There is even a scene where a seventy-year old woman runs completely naked while threatening someone with a shotgun (that's a gray area where you might wanna hit the fast forward button on the DVD player, stat). But make no mistake about it, every misunderstood character is somewhat likable and despite various flaws, empathetic. You sense that they don't want to grow up into adulthood. And as you take in "Burg's" dialogue-driven, 87 minute running time, you also sense that they're content on not wanting to leave their drab, colorless environment. The town at which they inhabit for a few sunshine-free days, sucks them in just like with every other vehicle containing a Pennsylvania backdrop. Steel mills, Primanti Brothers Sandwiches, expensive turnpikes, and Iron City Beer. Ah, who can resist.

In conclusion, Thanksgiving has always been my favorite time of the year. I mean, I don't cook so basically watching football, drinking spirits, and eating turkey all day is heaven for me. As for movies taking place on the pilgrim-themed holiday, I haven't seen many. Plains, Trains, & Automobiles would probably be right up at the top of a very short list. Is the current flick I'm reviewing in the same league as Steve Martin's classic 1987 comedy? Not quite. But it's worth a look. Its one word title is the actual name of a Central borough right outside of Altoona, PA. I've never been there so I can't tell you what it's like. I will say this though: Hollidaysburg as a lowbrow, coming-of-age yarn, is an interesting, earthy place to visit. Result: 3 Stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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