New from Al and Linda Lerner on Movies and Shakers: Skippers

With a confusing premise and a pace that moves as slow as a glacier, Writer/Director  Aaron Wertheimer crafts some chuckles if not laugh out loud moments. The plot centers on Carver (Chris Roberti), a good looking, though disheveled drifter who lives to find smooth stones he can skip across any available body of water. Wertheimer gets very good  performances from his lead cast members. He takes a lot of risks in creating understated, off-beat weirdos. Even though the overall movie is less than a complete success there moments that did give some emotional tug.

Carver sees much more than stones and water. He is a zen-like character who who finds universal truth, meaning and beauty in the act of keeping the stone dashing across the surface before sinking into the depths. The best moments in this film are provided by Steven Schuermans’ cinematography, especially the slo-mo shots of the stones interaction with the water and the simple views of nature. 

This story finds Carter by a little lake in a rural town, the shooting location was Bay City, Michigan. As he looks for perfect, smooth stones to skip, the local real estate agent Kevin (Kenny Zimlinghaus) and his clueless assistant Jake (Brian Jolles) immediately determine this guy is a threat to property values. They make it clear Carver’s appropriation and tossing of local stones is not acceptable. Mean real estate protector, Kevin, ultimately  undergoes the most surprising character twist which made the film more interesting. 

This razor-thin plot device is the basis of conflict that almost had us calling it quits on this movie in the first 20 minutes. Interest was increased a bit more once Carver headed into town. There he encounters the bartender Tanya (Julie Mann) and starts a friendship that ends quickly when he makes off with the smooth stones from  her favorite decorative jar. Carver also talks a couple of Backgammon players (played by Daniel Napolitano “DNap” and Hannah Worrell) out of the stones they use for game pieces. These characters appear out of thin air as Carter walks the streets. They’re just not very funny .It seems as though all the supporting characters are inserted for nothing more than to get a laugh.

There’s underlying conflict about the duality of life that eventually bubbles to the surface. Should a person’s goal be money or to live for those moments of beauty and tranquility? That issue comes front and center in the last act of the film. That’s when Wertheimer exposes Cater’s backstory how his expertise at skipping stones has actually had much more commercial value than just  his moments of zen. The appearance of his former Skipping Crew was not only predictable but they’re characterization is perhaps the least effective scene in the film. They act kind of stupid. Aaron Wertheimer cast himself as the leader of that crew.

Skippers has a pleasant message. This film reminds us there’s value in taking a step back to appreciate the beauty all around us. But we think the deadpan comedy style, choppy scene shifts and lack of a real payoff aren’t enough to keep you from skipping this movie.

Cow Lamp Films           1hr  11minutes         NR

from Movies and Shakers

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