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Darius Goes West: The Roll of His Life

Certain to stir hearts -- as proven by its aud award at the Santa Barbara Fest -- and primed to raise awareness of a debilitating form of muscular dystrophy, "Darius Goes West: The Roll of His Life" lovingly records 15-year-old Darius Weems' odds-defying cross-country U.S. trek.

With:
With: Darius Weems, Andrew Carson, Daniel Epting, John Hadden, John Harmon, Jason Hees, Sam Johnson, Collin Shepley, Ben Smalley, Logan Smalley, Kevin Wier, Dylan Wilson, Jamie Weems, Benjamin Seckler, Mark Johnson, William H. Macy, Felicity Huffman, Stephen Bennett, Clifton Downie, Michael Jackson.

Certain to stir hearts — as proven by its aud award at the Santa Barbara Fest — and primed to raise awareness of a debilitating form of muscular dystrophy, “Darius Goes West: The Roll of His Life” lovingly records 15-year-old Darius Weems’ odds-defying cross-country U.S. trek. A rare case of an almost purely amateur film that has a solid shot of cablecasts after a certain roll through the fest circuit, pic makes up in authentic feeling what it lacks in documentary skill.

Inspired by MTV’s popular “Pimp My Ride” show, Weems and his dedicated group of counselor-friends at the Athens, Ga.-based Project Reach organize an expedition via RV from Athens to Los Angeles and back. The odyssey’s multiple aims include publicizing Duchenne (a common form of MD that kills all its victims before age 30), demonstrating that youth like Darius can achieve beyond others’ limited expectations and urging MTV to put Darius on the “Pimp” show. The emerging moral here is that you can trust in the kindness of strangers (pic’s closing credits thank-you list may break a record for sheer length), but not in certain cable networks.

Darius Goes West: The Roll of His Life

Production: A Roll With Me production. Directed, edited by Logan Smalley.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), John Hadden, Dylan Wilson; music, Smalley; rap performance, Darius Weems; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/DTS), Jason Hees, Collin Shepley; re-recording mixer, Blake Eiseman. Reviewed on DVD, Los Angeles, Feb. 15, 2007. (In Santa Barbara Film Festival.) Running time: 94 MIN.

With: With: Darius Weems, Andrew Carson, Daniel Epting, John Hadden, John Harmon, Jason Hees, Sam Johnson, Collin Shepley, Ben Smalley, Logan Smalley, Kevin Wier, Dylan Wilson, Jamie Weems, Benjamin Seckler, Mark Johnson, William H. Macy, Felicity Huffman, Stephen Bennett, Clifton Downie, Michael Jackson.

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