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Monday, October 24, 2016

'A Better Place' DVD Boy Meets Hostile World


The October 25, 2016 Monarch Home Entertainment DVD release of the 2016 multi-award-winning scifi-teen-drama "A Better Place" evokes nice memories of the early 2000s CW scifi-teen-drama series "Roswell." The current take on the literally alien emo boy meets sweet teen-girl waitress and wraps her up in his drama is emo human boy meets sweet teen-girl waitress and wraps her up in his drama.

The well-deserved nine festival wins for this future cult classic include the Emerging Actor Spotlight award for Stephen Todt and the Best Narrative Feature award at the Los Angeles Movie Awards. These honors nicely acknowledge that (unlike virtually every other modern American film) "Better" values art over commerce.

Todt plays quiet blonde boy late teens Jeremy Rollins, whose mother has homeschooled him and otherwise kept him isolated on discovering during his childhood that anyone who inflicts pain on him triggers the impact of that injury on the person whom the attacker loves the most. An early example is the teen jock bully of the film beating Jeremy leads to a cut appearing on the head of the town sheriff/father of the BMOC despite that man being a significant distance from the beatdown of our hero.

A hilarious confrontation pits Jeremy against an unhinged egomaniac.

Virtually all of the drama in "Better" involves the death of the mother of Jeremy in the days before the roughly one-week time frame of the film. This unexpected passing requires that our shy and sheltered lad venture into the cold cruel world to meet basic needs such as a grocery shopping.

The puppy dog naivety of Jeremy regarding buying and preparing food and his gentle nature elicits the sympathy/attraction of Jess, who is a recent high school graduate dividing her time between slinging hash at the local diner and caring for her abusive dysfunctional alcoholic mother. The increasing bonding of our young not-quite lovers further inflames the aforementioned ill will of the adolescent stud and of Mommie Dearest.

Additional drama surrounds the stereotypical evil banker who involves the aforementioned lawman in his ongoing nefarious scheme essentially to toss widows and orphans out in the street;  the bimbo fiancee of said Master of his Universe contributes comic drama relief. The outward interest of the banker in Jeremy is that Mrs. Rollins was a bank employee. Reveals near the end of the film show that more is at stake than good will toward the orphan of an employee.

All of this leads to a climatic conflict that gathers the principals in one place. There is some shock and awe with a good dash of justice. The ambiguity in the final scene is equally apt.

As the aforementioned Best Actor award (and a companion one) reflect, Todt does a great job portraying Jeremy as a likable tortured outcast. This character clearly has issues and is shell shocked but avoids the cliched of coming across as a basket case who belongs in a padded cell. In other words, Todt displays perfect instincts.

On a larger level, "Better" has wide appeal. Tween girls will fall for our doe-eyed boy, drama fans will equally enjoy the scifi elements and the more more universal themes, and the rest of the viewers will like he humor and the overall good storytelling.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Better" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.