Can a poor lost soul rise above the ashes of his former self to find new life again? In Angus Benfield’s feature film, Yellow Bird, Benfield plays Jake Rush, a once successful PR specialist who now lives in his car and works as a bag boy a the local supermarket, The Yellow Bird.
When the film begins, Jake is on the cusp of losing everything. Compromising photos insinuating he’s having an affair with a co-worker have surfaced. So, Jake’s entitled wife, Ellie (Ena O’Rourke), decides to divorce him once and for all and release poor Jake from this loveless marriage. Jake’s spirit is further broken at work by his college-age boss, Scotty (Michael Maclane).
In a twist of fate, Scotty decides to trot Jake in front of his father, Lawrence (Scott King), the owner of The Yellow Bird, in hopes of transferring him to a new location. Instead, Lawrence is impressed with Jake’s demeanor and business experience that he swaps jobs between Jake and Scotty. Now Jake has to prove he has what it takes to be a leader by turning around the lackluster store and his ever-messy divorce.
“Compromising photos surface…Jake’s entitled wife, Ellie, decides to divorce him once and for all…”
Written by Tony Jerris, Yellow Bird is a sweet story of redemption. Though the plot primarily focuses on Jake, the cast of characters is also looking for a bit of hope. Jake’s mother, Rachel (Kathy Garver), has the beginnings of onset Alzheimers after the loss of Jake’s father. Jake gives a chance to his fellow AA cohort, Krystal (Plastic Martyr), who needs to work on her abrasive attitude. Teen co-worker Becky is in a less-than-healthy relationship, but Jake finds a special platonic bond with her. We also slowly uncover the true reason for Scotty’s bad behavior, and lastly, helping Jake out is a talking garden gnome voiced by the great Brian Doyle-Murray.
Overall, Yellow Bird falls in the family-friendly realm. It’s an independent comedy/light drama brimming with positivity. Most audiences will identify with the struggles that Jake and the others are going through. The film is the injection of hope and goodwill that we need now more than ever. But, at the same time, if you’re looking for high drama or a deep dive into the psychology of an almost homeless man, you won’t find it here.
If I had one wish, it would be that Benfield and Jerris delve a bit deeper into Jake’s alcoholism back as a way to inform the character’s current situation. Yes, connections regarding Jake’s past are established, but it feels like it’s glossed over as a minor element. You see the effects of Jake’s past, but I want to feel them emotionally as a way to connect with him.
Yellow Bird does quite a bit with its modest budget and blend of veteran and emerging actors like Kathy Garver, Brian Doyle-Murray, and voice actor Melissa Disney. Several background players are also given a chance to shine, including trans-actor Plastic Martyr, Ena O’Rourke, and star Angus Benfield to name a few. The film is brimming with that independent film spirit — a modest comedy perfect for anyone needing a bit of encouragement in life.
For screening information, visit the Yellow Bird official webpage at LAMA Production.
"…a modest comedy perfect for anyone needing a bit of encouragement in life."