Laura Paglin’s tale of evolving times, and culture clash is a film that’s rather anxious to present the best of intentions for the dichotomy of an old culture learning to adapt to a new culture that’s basically just pounded into us from minute one; but many times it can be too eager, and really has nothing else but good intentions and a worthy attempt at cultural paradoxes, and the big fish out of water theme that never jumps off the screen and rises above cliché muck. “The Nightowls of Coventry” often watches as more of a Family Channel dramedy, and for that its place as a film is stretched beyond its one note premise and clunky aphorisms. Paglin and the DVD have basically driven the publicity and success of the film on Harvey Pekar, and his endorsement, but that’s as far as Paglin can go here.
Pekar’s down to Earth mundane humanity and eccentricities are null and void in what feels like a sub-par sequel to “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” sans the charm. Paglia can never be sure what story she’s trying to tell, so instead she attempts to fit in all of these dangling plot threads that mesh and inevitably feels sloppy. There’s our young Susan who is a new girl in town learning the tricks of the trade as a waitress and getting acquainted with the restaurants oddballs, there’s our cast of Jewish senior citizens led by Marv who struggles to catch up with his new modern clientele, and there’s even the tales our older customers displaying discontent at the new customers, and none of the sub-plots spread out ever feel like Paglia is telling a true story.
Instead, they feel like trite footnotes only to be explored to a certain extent to gauge as much laughs and or smiles as possible, from the audience. Because of this, “The Nightowls of Coventry” feels less like a film, and more like a television movie/sitcom pilot, and one I wouldn’t feel comfortable following. No one enjoys films and books that focus on times beyond our vapid modern society than I do, but “The Nightowls of Coventry” is too mired in banal themes, and disconnected writing to really rise above its hazy made for TV atmosphere.