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Dead Dad

directed by Ken Adachi

starring Kyle Arrington, Jenni Melear, Lucas K. Peterson

ddDD / Hansen Films

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Mom passed away last decade, and now it's Dad's turn. His three hard-headed children show up to sort through the LPs and the paperwork and the shabby house and his ashes. Alex (Lucas Peterson) thinks the back yard suitable for dad; it keeps him near his home. Jane (Jenni Melear) leans toward an abandoned miniature golf course in the desert, and Russell (Kyle Arrington) suggests the beach. Dad always hated the beach. But with Dad already gone, the stakes are relatively low: there's not much estate to divvy up, the children weren't that close, and Russell neglecting to mention his girl friend Haili (Allyn Rachel) seems to be the biggest crisis going.

I can't say I find anyone terribly sympathetic in this well-paced slice-of-life drama. The family is splintered, which is common enough today, but they don't actively hate one another. Alex is the adopted oriental one, so while he's technically the real outsider, I liked his passive-aggressive intellectual detachment -- he subtexts "technically, I DO have a say here." Jane offers the least sympathy. Her nickname is "Chainsaw," and after ten minutes of her fury, any sane man would flee to the mountains. Lastly, Russell is the kid who stuck around and dealt with all the old guy's crap, and while I don't like him personally, I grant him the high ground; his vote, if anyone's, should count for more.

While the story leaves me cold, there are some nice visuals. The abandoned mini-golf course out in the high desert was a gem, and Alex's dreamy wander thought Chinatown is a credit to Eric Bader's camera skills. Some of us have been through this family dissolution, and for some it lurks in the future. Perhaps there's nothing worse than finding dad's porn stash, but it at least makes him human and this, despite everything, is a human movie.

This film was presented as part of the 2012 Florida Film Festival.

Dead Dad: deaddadmovie.com http:floridafilmfestival.com