‘Homecoming’: Nonsense tale

July 16, 2009

“Homecoming” is the kind of movie that makes you wonder what the people who made it were thinking while they were making it.


I’m not a mind-reader, but I believe it was something like this: “Gee, I hope nobody notices how ridiculous this all is.”


Or perhaps: “OK, I cast Mischa Barton because someone thought she’d be box-office insurance – but nobody told me she couldn’t act.”


Here’s a movie built on a wholly preposterous set-up – but without that set-up, there’d be no movie. And that’s not to mention the numerous implausibilities that follow.


The story, as it were: Mike (Matt Long), former high-school football star, comes back to his small hometown the fall after graduation to have his jersey retired at the homecoming game. He brings along his new college girlfriend, Elizabeth (Jessica Stroup). That doesn’t sit well with his old high-school girlfriend, Shelby (Barton), who stayed behind in the hometown to care for her dying mother and run the family bowling alley/cocktail lounge.


When, through a variety of contrived circumstances, Shelby accidentally hits Elizabeth with her pickup – on a deserted stretch of highway after midnight – she does what any jealous ex-girlfriend would do in similar circumstances: She makes her a hostage in her decaying farmhouse, while trying to win her former beau back.


Essentially, this is a bizarre mash-up of “Fatal Attraction” and Stephen King’s “Misery,” with so many risible premises that it’s hard to know where to begin. But here’s one:


A crucial early scene involves Shelby tending bar and pouring drinks for Elizabeth at the bowling alley until Elizabeth is trashed. Except – these are all kids who supposedly just graduated from high school, so they’re all 18, 19 max. There’s no way Shelby would be able to maintain the liquor license at that age, let alone be pouring drinks for other underage drinkers – in front of Mike’s cousin, the local cop.


(Perhaps director Morgan J. Freeman – no, not that Morgan Freeman – assumed no one would question this, because Barton looks to be about 35.)


How about the idea that this same cop – an adult, a relative of her boyfriend – would drop a drunk teenage girl off alone at a local motel to sleep it off – and then drive away without making sure the inebriated teen actually gets a room?


Elizabeth doesn’t get that room; the motel is full and so the owner tosses her out and locks up behind her. Conveniently for the plot, her iPhone gets no signal, though it does later when Shelby uses it to trick Mike. Anyway, that’s why Elizabeth is drunkenly dragging a suitcase down the highway near midnight, when Shelby comes along and hits her with a truck.


Which brings us to that accident: It’s a vehicle-vs.-pedestrian encounter at more than moderate speed that sends Elizabeth flying – but results only in a scalp laceration and an ankle fracture.


There’s a lot more but why bother? Discussing this at greater length only lends credibility to a film with little of its own. Let’s just say skip it and leave it at that.


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