"Our Very Own" is an example of not judging a DVD by its cover. The film's tag line on the front cover is, "The smaller the town, the bigger the dreams." While many will think, "Uh oh, another small town indie drama", "Our Very Own" is a sweet, likable little movie set in the late 70's from first time writer-director Cameron Watson that exceeds expectations and mixes comedy and drama very nicely.
The film follows 5 teenagers living in the tiny town of Shelbyville: Clancy Whitfield (Jason Ritter, "The Class"), Bobby Chester (Hilarie Burton, "One Tree Hill"), Ray (Derek Carter), Glen (Michael McKee) and Melora Kendall (Autumn Reeser, from "The O.C.") The group finds out that hometown girl turned superstar Sandra Locke is coming back for an engagement and they believe that she could be their ticket out of town if they manage to get a moment of her time.
However, things aren't as hopeful on the home front, as Clancy is caught in-between the struggles of his parents, as his unemployed father (Keith Carradine) has turned to drinking and his mother (Allison Janney) tries desperately to put a brave face on and keep the family from falling apart. As the date of Locke's arrival gets ever closer, the friends try to prepare a performance that they think will sell the star on their talent.
Director Cameron Watson doesn't try to push either the dramatic or comedic elements of the film, letting them sell themselves. The writer/director also seems to have a great deal of respect for his characters, and they're easy to root for. The performances also are terrific, as the great ensemble offers natural, sympathetic efforts that are both funny and moving. Reeser (who I thought was one of the best elements of the second half of "The O.C.") and Ritter are standouts (and have great chemistry together), but Janney, Burton and others offer enjoyable supporting efforts, as well. Watson has a great feel for these characters and he guides these young actors quite confidently. While the film is obviously working with a limited budget, it gets the small-town feel of the era down quite well.
"Our Very Own" has been done before (while not similar in plot, I thought the film reminded me slightly of "That Thing You Do!"), but despite a familiar small town story, I still found "Our Very Own" to be a pleasant surprise, with great performances from a talented young cast.
VIDEO: "Our Very Own" is presented by Miramax in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Image quality varied at times, although some issues appeared to be due to the film's lower budget. Sharpness and detail were not remarkable in any way, but the picture still appeared crisp during a good portion of the film.
Some minor problems occured, although nothing particularly distracting. Some light edge enhancement was seen in a few scenes, as were a few instances of artifacting. A few darker scenes looked grainy, although that's likely how these scenes have always appeared. The print did look to be in fine shape, with only some minor specks and marks. Colors seemed natural, with nice saturation and no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.l presentation did open up a bit on occasion for some slight ambience, but this was mostly a dialogue-driven comedy/drama, with the majority of the audio coming from the front speakers. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and music.
Final Thoughts: "Our Very Own" has been done before, but despite a familiar small town story, I still found "Our Very Own" to be a pleasant surprise, with great performances from a talented young cast. The DVD offers no extras and fine audio/video quality. A recommended rental.
The Film B+