Now I've seen everything. A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed the newly released DVD of Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael, an oddball film from 1990 about a small town enthralled with the idea that their favorite daughter, who left the town and went on to become a movie star, was gracing them with a return visit. Now comes Our Very Own, a straight-to-DVD release that's a near ripoff of Roxy, only more crazy. This time it's not a fictional movie star that the entire town is obsessed with, but a real one. Actually, I take that back -- it is a fictional movie star. It's Sondra Locke. Yeah, Sondra Locke, the 70s-era Clint Eastwood companion who appeared in several of his films -- remember the revenge-seeking rape victim from Sudden Impact? -- and whose acting career coincidentally ended at around the same time they broke up. Our Very Own, in a stunning retcon of reality, has its cast of Tennessee townies walk around in a near hypnotic state over the potential arrival of Locke, who we're repeatedly told is a major star.
If the movie were set in 2007 instead of 1978, Melora, the main character, would be the kind of kid who starts a fan site to celebrate her favorite actor. Played by Autumn Reeser, who looks like a young Julie Warner and gives away her non-Southern roots from the start by badly affecting a Reese Witherspoon-style white-trash Tennessee twang, Melora sports a The Heart is a Lonely Hunter poster on her bedroom wall and forestalls sex with her boyfriend so that she can confess her fondest hopes and dreams, which all involve Sondra Locke. "I want to meet her so bad," she says. "I dream about being just like her. [Wow] I don't know what I'll do if I don't get to see her and get to know her. I think she'll really like me!" Her boyfriend makes the mistake of indulging her in this line of thinking, which only brings out more of her fantasizing. "I wonder how she did it ... figured out how to be somebody," Melora muses. "She knew something ... something we don't know yet." Again, wow.
Much like Roxy -- too much -- the film contains a separate melodrama that rides sidecar to the main plot. In this story within a story, Allison Janney plays the unlucky wife of a man (Keith Carradine) who has gotten into some financial trouble and is hiding a mountain of debts. The couple's teenage son, played by Jason Ritter, is the boyfriend of Melora who has to suffer through all of her Locke fantasies in the hopes that sex will eventually follow. (If he was at all clever, it seems like he would come through her window one night dressed like The Outlaw Josey Wales, but that's neither here nor there.) The plot also finds room for a few other supporting players, including known entities like Curb Your Enthusiasm's Cheryl Hines, who has a throwaway role as a sort of PTA organizer and Beth Grant, who is always unintentionally hilarious in any role she pops up in. Here she's doing a 'Southern mom' character, with a cigarette in the corner of her mouth that constantly moves up and down when she talks.
You may remember that in Roxy the third act was all about a big party put on by the town as a kind of bait for Roxy Carmichael to actually show up -- the suspense hinged on whether she would really make an appearance at their big 'in honor of Roxy' shindig. Well, Our Very Own is its own movie -- here the town puts on two events, a variety show and a horsey show, and they eagerly await the appearance of Locke at one or both of those gatherings. I wouldn't dream of giving away whether or not Locke actually shows up at one of the events to sprinkle her stardust on the little people, but I will say that there's at least one hilarious false alarm moment when a Sondra sighting turns out to be bogus. What else is there to say about a movie like this? Autumn Reeser has an interesting screen presence that sort of rises above the intense, glowing weirdness she's surrounded by here. I'd like to see her given the chance to act in a more normal film.