I would love to see more films like this…

I love films that are about people as opposed to films where there is a lot of action.  So, while the public often flocks to blockbusters with huge budgets and explosions, I am often more happy seeing a much quieter style of film—one where the characters are the center of the film.  This doesn’t make me right or wrong—it’s just the sorts of films I usually prefer.  For example, after seeing the most recent Oscar-nominees for Best Picture, one of my very favorites was Nebraska and I much preferred it to most of the action-packed and star-studded films running against it. Because of my tastes in films, Small Time is pretty much exactly the sort of movie for me—and it may just be that way for you if you’re looking for an interesting story about seemingly normal folks.

Small Time
Written & Directed by
Joel Surnow
Christopher Meloni, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Norris
Release Date
18 April 2014
Martin’s Grade: A

Christopher Meloni (of Law & Order SVU and True Blood fame) stars as Al Klein—a divorced used car salesman whose ethics are extremely limited to say the least! He and his partner, Ash (Dean Norris), will say almost anything to close a sale and they are good at what they do.  A big surprise comes to Al, however, when his son, Freddy (Devon Bostick), graduates.  Instead of going off to college at Cal Poly (one of the top schools in the country), Freddy announces that he wants to move in with dad and go to work with him selling cars.  At first this seems wonderful—father and son together and doing what Al loves most.  But, as time passes, the awkward son starts to become more and more like his dad—and perhaps even better when it comes to selling cars.  This change in Freddy causes an emotional crisis for Al.  Does he really want the kid to be a chip off the old block?!

This is a wonderful character-driven story.  Through the course of the film, Meloni’s character grows—but not in a way that is unrealistic or contrived.  And, most importantly, it is not a HUGE change—but a reasonable change.  Meloni and the rest of the cast are great—and Meloni proves he’s not just good on television but as a movie actor as well.  I loved Bostick’s performance almost as much as Meloni’s and there were also a lot of nice supporting characters that give the film wonderful depth and humor (the opening scene with the young car thief is amazingly clever and made me smile).  While this isn’t a comedy exactly, some parts are funny and some of it is quite poignant.  This film should be a huge boost to the career of Joel Surnow.  While Surnow has written a quite a few scripts before this (mostly for TV—such as 24 and the amazingly overlooked Nowhere Man) and has a few producer credits, here he also gets a chance to direct as well as write the story—and he did a great job with both.

This film would make an excellent date night.  Women seem to really like Meloni and the film has a lot for the guys as well.  Intelligent and well worth your time.

Review by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer