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Northwood Pie (2020)

Northwood Pie  

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A fantastic coming of age story. The story feels real and so do the characters. The characters have great chemistry.  Annika Foster is fantastic in this, she really does steal her scenes.  The humor works in this very similar to Clerks and Swingers. Great debut with good directing and well written screenplay 

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Some films are timeless, not because of the way they look but because of the way they understand people. I grew up in the 80's with directors like John Hughes and Cameron Crowe, and they wrote some of the most iconic characters of my time. Jeff Spicolli, John Bender, Ducky Dale and Brad Hamilton, just to name a very few. What made those two writers so good is their ability to understand the youth they wrote about. Jay Salahi and Todd Knaak might well be on their way to becoming the next Crowe or Hughes. I don't say that lightly. Greatness is something you earn and with this being their first feature film, they have certainly shown that they are well on their way.

There are spoilers from here on out so if you don't want to know anything about the film, stop here and just know that I love this movie and hope everyone gets a chance to see it.

Todd Knaak plays Crispin, who might be named such as an homage to Back to the Future (another character in this film is named Lloyd, another BTTF nod), as it is just one of a plethora of films that this film either mentions or displays on screen. He's a young slacker who has never had a job in his life and when he goes for his first interview, his hair in flowing in all different directions and his shirt is old and full of holes. This doesn't seem to deter the boss as he gives him the job on the spot. Crispin likes to get high and he likes to hang out with friends but he has no idea what he wants to do with his life. But upon getting his first job at Northwood Pie, he starts to learn about himself. It's here that he meets Sierra. Annika Foster plays her and there is a familiarity and a comfort to this character. Watching her you feel like you know her. Part of this is the terrific dialogue by the co-writers but much of it is also that Foster has a natural likability. She's the kind of character that anyone would fall for. She's sweet, smart, articulate, beautiful and also has no clue what she wants to do with her life.

Crispin and Sierra start up a beautiful friendship but it's clear they both want more from one another. Never is it more apparent than my favourite scene in the movie where the two of them are sitting on a curb overlooking LA, and they just talk for almost four minutes with only a few camera cuts. They talk about nothing and everything all at the same time. She even tells him that there's something about him that she likes. But unfortunately for Crispin, he doesn't seem to be ready to "close the deal". While this scene is my favourite in the movie, there's another scene that set my intestines on fire. It takes place at a party and let's just say there's shades of Last American Virgin at this party. Even Sierra's LAV moment reminds me of Diane Franklin. It's such a well written and acted scene and the terrific thing about it neither writers have seen Last American Virgin.

On the lighter side of things, this film pays homage to so many other films that the director probably grew up with. There's shades of Swingers, Dazed and Confused, Clerks and even some Silver Linings Playbook. There's posters of Jurassic Park, The Shining and A Clockwork Orange. And Crispin is such a nerd that even though he could jerk off to about 100 different porn sites, he still chooses to do so watching slave Leia. Brilliant.

There's also a scene for film lovers only where Salahi has a cameo and his name is "Hayden". In this scene he discovers that one of the other characters has a new potential girlfriend but the main drawback is that her favourite Star Wars film is Attack of the Clones. It's very esoteric but so incredibly funny.

Northwood Pie is a low budget independent film with a first time director and a cast of mostly unknowns and yet it doesn't feel that way at all. These actors play off of one another like they were veterans and if this had of come out in the 80's you would of had actors like Andrew McCarthy, Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy playing prominent roles. Besides the two leads, many of the secondary characters make the film feel so real and so make us feel connected to the world they inhabit. My favourite secondary character is Anthony who is even more of a slacker than Crispin in and he has the look and persona of a young Casey Affleck. There's also some really good secondary stories for these characters. When you find out about Lloyd and Jordan and why Lloyd's hate is so important, you might have to hold back the tears.

It's a timeless film. Timeless because the themes in here are relevant today just as they were in the 70's and 80's and the 90's. Everyone wants to be loved. Friends will rib each other and growing up, we are all confused and don't know what we want out of life. I can't praise this film enough. From the JJ Abrams lens flairs, to the Star Wars nods to the subtle homages to films that Salahi and Knaak have probably never seen, this does pretty much everything right. I can't wait to see what Salahi and Knaak do for their follow up.

This will undoubtedly make my top ten of the year.

9/10

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