A man reflects on his life as he comes face to face with some new challenges, including a possible shot at love, in this dramedy from filmmaker Jake Goldberger.
Charlie Brenner was an aspiring chef who was on his way to make it big when he made a mistake. No longer having the passion to live his dreams, Charlie finds a job as an assistant manager in his hometown’s movie theater and is living life only when he is with his best friend Ben, who is awaiting the results of his bar exam. Charlie lives with his mother, stepfather, and little brother. He also has eyes for Amber, a young woman who works at the local coffee house he always goes to, but is afraid to ask her out.
Amber has a bit of a complicated life herself. Her roommate Jack is somewhat of a deadbeat. She has a boyfriend, Brad, who is a track star. However, Amber has dreams when she plans to move to New York. Things go from bad to worse for Charlie when his father returns to town, with potentially ulterior motives. As Charlie and Amber begin to bond, the complications in their lives may prevent them from even becoming real friends, much less a romance. Will these two be able to overcome their life obstacles and at least become friends?
For his third film, filmmaker Jake Goldberger brings what can be said to be real issues in a small town in terms of his characters having big dreams and being able to overcome their personal issues to attain those goals. While the primary focus is on an unmotivated young man who slowly begins to see the light, he finds himself in a series of constant ruts, while there are a few subplots involving other characters with the same notion in mind.
Freddie Highmore once again shows why he is truly a great talent, this time as Charlie, an aspiring chef who only uses his skills at home and not in some fancy restaurant. That’s because an incident resulted in Charlie feeling like he lost everything, yet he still has his family and friends, notably best buddy Ben, played by Haley Joel Osment, and Heather, played by Rita Volk. While Ben is there as Charlie’s confidant and at times the only reason why he even goes out anymore, Heather is a reliable friend too and is part of the film’s major subplot which involves a possible relationship with Jack, the deadbeat roommate of lead female character Amber.
Odeya Rush’s Amber may seem like a character who has it all but like Charlie, she has her own set of complicated matters, thus making it easy at first for these two to get along quite well. While Amber’s relationship with Brad seems to look good, there is something under the surface that could jeopardize that part of her life as it not so much Charlie, but something else. Highmore and Rush have some pretty good chemistry together and it helps drive the film and in a way, the two attempt to help each other get through their personal issues. Jake Abel’s Jack seems like a moocher until Charlie helps him get a job at the movie theater and it is there that Jack begins to aspire to get quite a few things: an actual relationship with Heather and the big candy bar in a crane game machine in the theater.
Marg Helgenberger helps bring Charlie to a grounded effect as his mother with Chris Meloni playing Charlie’s returning dad, who seems to be shady while attempting to help Charlie with his issues as well. It is like Charlie’s dad somewhat means well but he isn’t going to get the award for “father of the year”.
Almost Friends is a pretty good look at dreams and what people will go through to achieve those dreams, even if it means overcoming the odds in their personal lives. Some great performances from the young cast really drive this film as one to check out.
WFG RATING: B+
Gravitas Ventures presents a Let It Play/Animus Films production. Director: Jake Goldberger. Producers: Tony Lee, Jim Young, and Alex A. Ginzburg. Cinematography: Jeremy Mackie. Editing: Julie Garces.
Cast: Freddie Highmore, Odeya Rush, Haley Joel Osment, Marg Helgenberger, Christopher Meloni, Jake Abel, Rita Volk, Taylor John Smith.
The film will be coming to theaters, On Demand, and Digital HD on November 17.