Film Review: “Ode to Joy”

ODE TO JOY
Starring:  Martin Freeman, Melissa Rauch and Jake Lacy
Directed by:  Jason Winer
Rated:  R
Running time:  1 hr 37 mins
IFC Films

We are an emotional people.  The simplest things can set us off.  A puppy can make us smile while a flat tire can make us curse.  Pretty normal.  Unless you’re Charlie (Freeman).  He is one of the people that the term “his emotions really got the best of him” was coined for.  Charlie has cataplexy, and when he feels happy he passes out, which can’t be good for his love life.

A funny and well written film, “Ode to Joy” begins with Charlie serving as Best Man at a friend’s wedding.  Despite trying to keep neutral thoughts, he smiles at his friend’s good fortune and drops like a stone.  Charlie is a librarian – a great job for anyone that doesn’t want to deal with any emotions, since you basically have to stay quiet in a library – and one day meets Francesca (Morena Baccarin), a beautiful woman who has just broken up with her boyfriend.  Intrigued my Charlie, she agrees to go out with him.

Being with Francesca is a good thing for Charlie…until, of course, it becomes a bad thing.  Down he goes again.

Inspired by a true story – yes, cataplexy is very real – from events in co-writer Chris Higgins’ life, “Ode to Joy” is held together by an amazing performance by Freeman.  It would be so easy to play Charlie as another bumbling fool looking for love, but Mr. Freeman gives the character an emotional edge – a true heart that makes your own ache for his problem.  Ms. Baccarin is both funny and beautiful, a deadly combination for anyone.  Supporting work by Melissa Rauch and Jake Lacy is also strong.  And it’s always nice to see Jane Curtin, who should have been declared a National Treasure years ago, on the big screen.

Director Winer, an Emmy winner and frequent producer/director on television’s “Modern Family,” brings a light touch to the material, treating the situation as seriously as possible while still maintaining an undercurrent of humor.  He keeps the story movingbut allows the viewer to pause, when necessary, to assess the situations at hand. 

As summer comes to a close, take a chance on “Ode to Joy.”  And try not to pass out! 

Former Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver drummer releases new video for his song “Ode to Nick”

Drummer/Frontman Matt Sorum has just released a new video for his song “Ode to Nick”. The somber track is the latest in a series of video releases from Sorums new solo project “Matt Sorum’s Fierce Joy” and come in the wake of the group’s debut album “Stratosphere” which was released in March of this year.

Sorum recently had this to say about the new video: “Ode to Nick was written as a love song to my wife Ace. I have always loved Nick Drake from the first time I heard the Song “Riverman” from the “Five Leaves Left” album. His poetry was beautiful, deep and honest – the way love should be. I used Nick Drake as a metaphor for love, and the romantic sentiment of his song titles are used throughout. I thought of the most peaceful place that I spent my childhood, at my grandmother’s lake house on Green Lake, Minnesota and the sound I would hear in the distance … a loon. Hence the chorus, “Love is a boat on a lake, Just you and me and Nick Drake”.

“I’d like to dedicate this video to the actor that played the Riverman on the bus stop bench Vince Guarino who passed away August 5, 2014. “There are things behind the sun.”

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