Sometimes all you want to do is snuggle up on the couch and watch a feel-good movie. Writer-director Rick Walker’s Second Chances is the specific type of dramatic comedy reserved for those very moments. While the film dabbles in tragedy and sadness, the filmmaker is intent on warming your heart, which he does quite successfully with a vibrant ensemble and a lighthearted tone.
Jimi (Allyson Cristofaro) is a 21-year-old employee at Second Chances, an Oklahoma City thrift shop owned by Junie Mae (Thesa Loving). She is a vivacious and quirky old soul. Despite her parents naming her after Jimi Hendrix, Jimi isn’t bothered by her name and embraces it. Then, one day, Jimi finds a torn-up love note in a handbag. She’s immediately fascinated by the note and makes it her mission to reunite the couple. Jimi believes that communication is key for any relationship.
At the same time, Jimi develops a crush on Aiden (Lawson Stewart), an attractive customer who makes a daily trip to the store looking for a game. She finds herself contemplating her image and behavior as she wrestles with her newfound attraction, going so far as to experiment with make-up styles to make herself more attractive to Aiden. Meanwhile, after learning more about the couple the note refers to, Jimi brings the two together with an online dating application. While this much romantic yearning is more than enough for a feature film, more plot threads emerge and complicate an otherwise sweet tale of romance, identity, and friendship.
“…Jimi finds a torn-up love note…and makes it her mission to reunite the couple.”
The story for Second Chances, by Walker and Jacie Quillen, juggles too much conflict and tragedy, with some baffling writing decisions that left me confused as to why a pivotal event or relationship wasn’t being treated as a hugely significant plot point. For example, Jimi’s relationship with her parents leaves much to be desired. Nonetheless, the screenplay adequately brings the characters together in heartrending situations while avoiding being too solemn. This is, after all, a movie catering to families. Be that as it may, the family-friendly humor regularly made me chuckle.
Cristofaro gives a charming performance that brings Jimi’s boisterous personality and her stifled vulnerabilities to life. Loving is genuinely soothing and grounded in her approach as the sapient Junie Mae, giving weight to even the tritest dialogue. Together, Cristofaro and Loving have nice chemistry, and their scenes stand out for their infectious warmth. Cristofaro’s co-stars are just as lively and motivated, although their characterizations are hindered by cursory plotting. For example, Aiden has an underutilized subplot involving his mother that neglects to show how he deals (or doesn’t) with his emotions. But Jimi, the zestful protagonist, keeps you smiling, laughing, and invested in all things unraveling on-screen, and it’s a lot.
Second Chances centers around a wonderfully quaint thrift shop and its dynamic employees and customers while telling a delightful story. Walker ultimately ensures that there’s enough compassion and humor to go around to make this family-friendly comedy/drama worthwhile.
For screening information, visit the Second Chances official website.
"…keeps you smiling, laughing, and invested..."