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Release Date: 04/23/24 [VOD]
Genre: Drama.

Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment. 

[Seen for Tribeca Film Festival 2023]

"Based on the novel by Chuck Klosterman, Downtown Owl is a sparkle dark Reagan Era comedy set in the fictional town of Owl, North Dakota in the leading days up to the region's blizzard in Minnesota's century." 


Downtown Owl is an offbeat dramedy that catches you off guard with its relentless, fast paced bantering between characters. Nothing about this movie should be considered natural, but it’s not trying to be. Many scenes are reminiscent of the works of Charlie Kaufman and Alexander Payne with its concoction of stark reality, oddball characters and abnormal interactions.


The movie is set in a 1980s Reagan-era reality, but rarely feels grounded by it. A majority of characters come off eccentric and exaggerated, with one exception in Ed Harris who gives us a heartfelt performance as Owl’s elder wiseman, Horace. He offers his wisdom and guidance to recently relocated teacher Julia (Lily  Rabe) who has quickly become a common love interest for most of Owl’s town-folk. 


Most of the characters act as if they’re living in their very own ‘one man show.’ They’re blunt, transparent and describe themselves and others from the perspective of a gossip columnist.


We see our main character go through a life-upending transformation after moving to a small, close-knit town of Owl where everyone knows everyone and there is no safe harbor for secrets. 


Once you adjust to the fast paced dialogue, clever, witty quips are abundant and they solicited more than a few chuckles from me. It takes some time to properly warm up to the unfamiliar, frigid waters of Owl, but eventually you acclimate to the people and the atmosphere, it makes for an enjoyable tourist attraction to an outsider. 


While not for everyone, Downtown Owl is often a hoot with its unconventional humor, but as the film neared its conclusion it slowly pecked away at both my patience and interest and ruffled my feathers with frustration more than amusement. 


I give my poor “punsmanship” a spilt popcorn, but this movie a half, which will be more than enough for indie film advocates to munch on.


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