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Film Review: ‘Remember Me’

Two squabbling boy-men cousins find themselves suddenly responsible for Grandma's welfare in writer-director-star Steve Goldbloom's debut feature.

Courtesy of Sparklight Films

Squabbling, self-absorbed cousins suddenly find themselves responsible for their grandmother’s welfare in “Remember Me.” Writer-director-star Steve Goldbloom’s debut feature is an uneven trifle overly dependent on the familiar, uninspired comedy of immature man-boys behaving badly. But it has an ace up its sleeve in the person of historied veteran Rita Moreno, whose unpredictable performance in an underwritten role gooses things to an amiable degree. Her appeal could connect with older audiences further drawn by the subject of elder care, raising the possibility of modest theatrical exposure prior to home-format sales.

An alleged journalist for an NPR-like radio network whose work doesn’t seem to go beyond recording intros to far-flung correspondents’ Middle Eastern reports, Vincent (Goldbloom) is a thirtysomething fussbudget leading a very cautious life with no apparent room for friends or lovers. Stopping by “Nanna and Pappy’s” suburban Bay Area place for lunch, he’s displeased to encounter cousin Barry (Joel Kelley Dauten), a would-be actor/comedian and part-time Uber driver who doesn’t like him much, either.

They’re forced to deal as a team, however, when a crisis occurs: 90-ish Grandpa (Ray Reinhardt) suddenly expires while grandma Gloria (Moreno) is napping. Their own parents offer little help (Barry’s are “useless,” Vincent’s live in Australia), so the two men frantically decide to hustle Gloria out of the house while the body is removed by authorities, sparing her the bad news until they’re already en route to the rest home at which they’ve decided to deposit her.

What follows is a low-mileage road pic padded out by an overnight stay at a hotel where Barry performs a standup gig, two horny women (Heidi Godt, Melissa Locsin) make themselves highly available, and Gloria drops in on a next-morning local tango class. But Goldbloom’s episodic script is so low on incident it’s strange that he finds no time to really develop the characters. Instead, the primary emphasis falls on the mutually irritating dynamic between cousins, both insecure, competitive types reminiscent of umpteen predecessors in the recent oeuvres of Judd Apatow, Adam Sandler, etc. Their material (even Barry’s standup routine, which we along with his audience are meant to find hilarious) is mediocre stuff, making “Remember Me” too often seem just another big-screen outing by sketch-comedy talents not yet ready for a longer storytelling format.

Nonetheless, Moreno provides considerable compensation, even if Gloria is barely sketched in the screenplay as more than a reactive “straight man” to her antic juniors, plus some arbitrary surprise behaviors (like that tango class). When we first meet her, she seems heavily medicated, possibly senile; later, she alternates between grief and joie de vivre. None of this is organically developed — it never seems to occur that we might appreciate some passing insight into her past 80-odd years — yet the performer manages to make a virtue of vagueness, treating Gloria as a stealth weapon that might fire off in an unanticipated direction at any moment. Without her droll shadings, “Remember Me” would look very flimsy indeed as one more exercise in the pat cutenesses of “boys will be boys” and “sassy old people are adorable.”

Assembly is pro if undistinguished, with some rather on-the-nose jokey soundtrack choices.

Film Review: ‘Remember Me’

Reviewed online, San Francisco, March 5, 2016. (In Cinequest Film Festival.) Running time: 83 MIN.

  • Production: A Sparklight Films presentation. Produced by Heather Haggarty, Nanou Matteson. Executive producers, Haggarty, David Long, Matteson.
  • Crew: Directed, written by Steve Goldbloom. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Justin Chin; editor, Zach Land Miller; music, Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum; costume designer, Irina Shamsotinov; production designer, Jules Kobelin; sound, Sage Bilderback; re-recording mixers, James LeBrecht, Dan Olmsted; assistant director, Maria F. Leon.
  • With: Steve Goldbloom, Joel Kelley Dauten, Rita Moreno, Ray Reinhardt, Zach Land Miller, Corey Jackson, Pamela Gaye Walker, Miranda Kahn, Michael Valladares, Jeff Kazanjian, Heidi Godt, Melissa Locsin, Liz Kennedy, Alexander Matteson, Jonathan Levine.