Veteran TV helmer Bobby Roth’s dramatization of his late-’60s college days rep an awkward flashback to times that still loom large in historic memory. Pallid where the writer-director’s prior indies (“Jack the Dog,” “Manhood”) were obnoxious, “Berkeley” reprises their pretensions — adding an overambitious period agenda betrayed by an obvious low budget. Starring Roth’s son Nick, pic is a vanity project with just enough generically marketable aspects to attract some cable and DVD sales.
Ben Sweet (Nick Roth) enters the U. of California at Berkeley in 1968, as the counterculture and antiwar movements reach full tilt. Yet his experiences, meant to personify those turbulent times, seem so minor-league they might as well have taken place at a community college. He’s schooled in partydom by Mishkin (Sebastian Tillinger), awed by radical Henry (Jake Newton), and starts a band (bland Roth Jr. does sing well). But dull casting and cliche-ridden writing drain everyone of vividness, including love interests (Sarah Carter, Laura Jordan) and game Bonnie Bedelia as an academic mentor. Only Henry Winkler as Ben’s carpet-salesman pa has the joie de vivre the pic desperately needs. Tech aspects are fair.