Happy now?

There seems to be a conception among independent filmmakers that, to be successful, your film needs to resemble a studio film. Sure, the low end is being taken over by digital technology, but that's really just the window dressing - most people are still telling the same sorts of stories in the same ways.

Don: Plain and Tall is a little different. It's about this guy Don, married in suburbia with a good tech job, who takes a look into happiness - why he's not quite satisfied, and what it might take to get him there. As a techie, he starts making charts and graphs of his life as he delves into the question of happiness. That's not the different part. With its friendly, self-referential, home-movie-spun-out-of-control style, somehow this film has a natural immediacy to it that more often must be manufactured (and usually feeling that way). Like a conversation that meanders from tangent to tangent, each turn follows perfectly.

On his journey - what must (?) be largely auto-biographical, by the way - Don eventually quits his job to delve into the world of stand up comedy. At first, his routines don't quite work, but when he learns to draw on his search for happiness, and that scientific approach of his, things start looking up. That's not all there is to it - there are some deeper moments that tie the film together, and even answer some aspects of the question of happiness. Some may see these as pushing sentimentality on us, but I feel like the film has earned it.

Given its format, Don: Plain and Tall may have a difficult time finding distribution - it's tricky to pin it down to any particular genre. I can see it doing well on the festival circuit, though - so keep your eyes open for it, I think this one's definitely worth catching.

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