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Highland park follows a group of high school faculty members and their desire to improve their community. Confronted with overwhelming problems and limited resources, their lives and priorities change when money seemingly falls into their lap. //
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Set in Highland Park (big surprise there), a community in Detroit, the film introduces us to the staff of a dilapidated high school. In dire financial straits, the school is facing enormous cut-backs and massive lay-offs. For an unexplained reason, a diverse group of employees (principal, teachers, handy man, bus driver) get together every week to purchase communal lottery tickets. I tried not to dwell on why this particular enclave of people would have gotten together to do this in the first place, many don't seem to have much in common. So I just went with it. One fateful evening, the winning numbers are announced and life will forever be altered for our assortment of characters. Earnest Danny Glover seems to be the glue holding this group together and, even though he is away on a trip, everyone is confident that he has played the numbers that they have utilized for dozens of years. So without even seeing a winning ticket, they all go nutty. Heck, the story is even carried by the press. Why bother with things like verification? Burke, who is the principal and the moral center of the film, promises much of the money to social reform. He and the local mayor, Parker Posey, are constantly at odds and this secures her commitment to revitalization as opposed to destruction. As you might imagine (it doesn't take a rocket scientist or a script consultant to guess), all may not be what it seems.
Despite the absolute predictability of what happens, I was still invested in the slight drama due to the cast. That's a HUGE accomplishment, though, because they started acting like complete idiots. Still, it's entertaining and amusing enough. Where the film becomes painful, in my opinion, is in the depiction of important political and financial concerns. The simplistic worldview of "Highland Park" is that everything can be laid at the feet of one corrupt mayor. Posey, whom I love, is given the unenviable task of playing one of this year's most ridiculous characters. Chewing the scenery and cackling (if she had a mustache, she's be twirling it maniacally), she stands out like a cartoon character as the movie tries to be serious. I'm not joking, she is borrowing from the Cruella de Ville playbook (luckily, though, she doesn't skin any puppies). While I found her genuinely amusing, it makes the film's conclusions and messages absolutely irrelevant. I was groaning by the end of it all, with the final confrontations getting increasingly silly. Still, if the cast sounds appealing to you, this might be worth a look. Just don't expect a serious contemplation of real world issues and concerns. KGHarris, 8/13.
They begin dreaming of how to fix their lives -- and their school, library, and community! Relatives pressure them for handouts. Some of them play Santa Claus. Others cave in to public pressure to donate money.
Trouble is, they don't YET have the winning ticket...
Then it turns out they did NOT win after all!
Danny Glover, who normally bought the ticket every week, picked different numbers this time around. He returns from his camping trip to find that all his friends are spending money they don't have. Now he must break the bad news to them.
Up till now, the film was a fairly decent, AUTHENTIC human drama. The sort independent films do best. But that didn't satisfy the filmmaker, for some reason. So the film does a sudden turnaround at the last minute, tacking on an ARTIFICIALLY happy, sappy ending.
Other indie films that wimped out like this include Driven and An Invisible Sign.
HIGHLAND PARK has some other problems. Some of the characters are too overdrawn -- way too noble. Especially Danny Glover, as the retired school handyman. He comes in for free every day to fix things, though he is no longer paid. And he feels so bad about losing the mega-millions lotto for everyone that he withdraws his life savings -- $37,000 -- to give to everyone. He talks about mortgaging his house.
Huh? How realistic is that? What about his elderly wife? Shouldn't Glover be concerned about providing for her future?
The screenwriter is just "trying too hard" to make Glover's character super-noble. Glover's character is decent enough -- and more human -- without turning him into an artificial saint.
Parker Posey is prominently featured on the DVD box, but the credits list her as "with Parker Posey." Hers is a supporting role -- though, as usual in many of her films, she's the best part of it. I wish her role was bigger.
How could they go on and spend all that money without having actual conformation. Surely the lottery officials would have stepped in after that news conference and said--these individuals have not claimed their ticket. I get that they were doing this for ten years but, there's trust, and then there's too much suspension of disbelief.
Otherwise it was a sweet little film, maybe too neat in its finale, but any excuse to watch Parker Posey in action is fine with me.
Since Billy Burke, Danny Glover, Rockmund Dunbar, Kimberly Elise and Vernee Watson are in this movie, I decided to watch. It wasn't as entertaining as I hoped it would be and there was too much profanity, but it was somewhat interesting. The film sends messages about handling money, greed, abuse of authoritative power, parental responsibility, friendship and forgiveness.