By Ashley Hillard
”Shermanâ€™s Way” is one of those great small films that can create a big splash without requiring a big budget, big stars or big effects â€“ itâ€™s the story that makes it. Nerdy and uptight Sherman (Michael Shulman) decides to walk away from the internship his powerful mother (Donna Murphy) helped set up for him. Looking forward to surprising his longtime girlfriend, Marcy (Lacy Chabert) in Napa Valley, Sherman is the one who is surprised when it is revealed that she invited a different guy to spend the summer with her. Upset, Sherman hitches a ride with a stranger named Palmer (James LeGros). Sherman ends up spending the summer with Palmer and his best friend D.J. (Enrico Colantoni) restoring a roadster for Palmerâ€™s estranged sonâ€™s graduation gift.
Though the concept is not original, this take has a lot of heart and audience members can connect with the underlying theme of struggling to make things right, not settling and finding a way to reconcile with the past. At the core of the story is a moving father / son relationship; Sherman finds the father figure he craves after his own father passed away when he was three. Palmer is able to be a father to Sherman in a way he never was able to be to his own son.
At times, the pace of the movie is too slow and loses momentum, but overall it is a solid story that is beautifully shot by cinematographer Joaquin Sedillo (”Memento” / 2nd Unit). The cast members give good performances, with the exception of Shulman. Though he has the right look for the role, this could have been a much more powerful film with a stronger actor carrying the weight of the movie.
Director / producer Craig Saavedra should teach a class on how to economically make a theatrically releasable film â€“ ”Shermanâ€™s Way” was shot in nineteen days, in New York, San Diego, Northern California and Los Angeles for (drum roll), $300,000! Pretty amazing considering thatâ€™s not out of the realm of possibilities for the budget of a USC / UCLA short student film. Tom Nance, writer / producer and actor in the film, deserves credit for making an overdone film idea into a script worthy of Cannes (which is where the film is heading). Sadly, my friend Tom was killed in a motorcycle accident in Hollywood before he was able to see this film achieve theatrical release and acceptance into the Cannes Film Festival. Iâ€™m sure, on some level, he knew where this film was headed.