Recently divorced and living a life of quiet desperation as a teacher at his old high school, Lloyd (Drew Smith) attends his high school reunion with much reluctance and misgivings. While there, he strikes up a conversation with Teddy (Allen C. Gardner), the popular jock who ruled the school back in the day. Teddy’s got his own issues, and the two bond over the s**t their lives have become. Bitter and sad, Lloyd and Teddy decide to change in the simplest way they can think of: from here on out, they will just “be awesome,” in words and deeds.
The change in attitude works initially. Teddy falls in love with a single mother (Hayden Wyatt) and makes amends with an old friend (Matthew Stiller), and Lloyd begins to work through the emotional baggage he’s carrying around after the divorce, while also mentoring an art student, Blake (Sean McBride), who might be heading down the same path Lloyd did. Of course, being awesome is an attitude and philosophy that eventually will be tested, as Teddy and Lloyd find out.
Allen C. Gardner’s feature film, Being Awesome, is a subtle, nuanced affair throughout. The comedy elements are naturalistic and sometimes dry, and the drama is pervasive but not overwrought. It doesn’t push to any extremes, finding an elegant narrative groove that it rides from start to finish.
It’s such a perfection of pacing that I glanced at the running time once and was amazed I was as far along into the film as I was; you just don’t notice because it’s such a smooth experience, especially when you consider that the film is a classic three act structure, but it doesn’t necessarily feel that routine and structured. Its competence in tone and pacing mask the strength of the underlying structure; you don’t fully realize how together the film is until you start looking for flaws.
I’m hard-pressed to find much wrong with this one. I do think Being Awesome is an extremely well-made film, and most opinions regarding what works or doesn’t work will come down entirely to taste. Subtlety doesn’t work for everyone, and what I consider a naturalistic pace that allows characters and plot to develop properly, others might see as slow. I get that this will not be for everyone, but it most certainly was a pleasurable experience for me.
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