PRODUCE – A Review by John Strange

The Cast of PRODUCE


By: John ’Doc’ Strange

Directed by: Chris Dowling

Cast: Kristoffer Polaha, David DeSanctis, McKaley Miller, Michael Grant, Brooke Burns, Alan Powell, Danica McKellar, Kerr Smith, William Zabka

MPAA Rating: Not yet rated

Selig Rating: FULL PRICE

Runtime: 93 Min.

Calvin Campbell (Kristoffer Polaha) is a very unhappy man.  Ex-major league baseball player and single parent of a teenage daughter who is dating a boy he doesn’t trust.  He goes through life drinking and disappointing both his daughter and his friends.

Reality has a habit of slipping up on you when and where you least expect it.  For Calvin, his moment happens at the grocery store in the form of stocker named Produce (David DeSanctis).  Produce is a young man with Down’s syndrome but these two words don’t adequately describe him.  Produce has enough great attitude for three people.  He loves to greet customers by name and hugs the ones who allow him to!  As he proves to Calvin on their second meeting, he also knows the code for every fruit and vegetable in the produce department.

The two begin a friendship that benefits each of them.  Produce learns to bat a baseball while, slowly, Calvin learns to smile again.  The smile takes a LOT more than just Produce’s actions as Calvin’s alcohol problem has alienated his daughter, Katie (McKaley Miller).

Produce has a nemesis.  His name is Colt Beam (Michael Grant) and he is the current boyfriend of Katie (which means he is NOT on Calvin’s list of favorites, either).  Colt is the classic definition of a bully, right down to the friends who are ready to stand guard while he is “busy”.

Calvin’s friends are as troubled as he is.  Milton Malcolm (William Zabka) is the town’s car dealer, a man always looking for ways to sell more cars.  He has a wife and two sons.  Franklin Weaver (Alan Powell) is a local musician who doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. 

This story, written by director Chris Dowling, entwines the lives of these people in a way that is simultaneously engaging and touching.  There are so many issues that are touched on in the movie that it would take a while to discuss them all.  The highlight for me was Calvin’s discussion with Produce’s boss at the grocery store where they discuss equating the “R-word” (retarded) with the “N-word” (the manager is black).

One of the reasons I LOVE film festivals is the chance to see films like Produce.  Films that are striving to find a distributor to bring their story to a wider audience.  This film is a gem that needs to be picked up by a distributor and brought to theaters everywhere.  One final note though.  If you watch this film, bring a few napkins, tissues, or a couple of handkerchiefs with you.  You’ll need them.  I did.

Movie Site:

The Selig Rating Scale:

FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price
MATINEE – Good movie
DOLLAR – OK movie
CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.
FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.
GET YOUR TORCHES – BAD! – Burn the script, the writer, the director and maybe even the actors!


Photo credit:  Stephen Duffy, Selig Polyscope Company

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