Two brothers meet at their dad’s cabin for a camping trip as family secrets emerge. What could possibly go wrong?The Godfather Buck is now available to rent or buy on streaming outlets. Trigger warning: Sexual abuse themes.
The film, directed by Thomas J Churchill, is the story of two brothers meeting at their dad’s cabin in Big Bear for an annual camping trip and their discovery of long-held family secrets.
The movie was executive produced and written by Frederick Keeve who also stars in the film as Dan Madden. His brother Steven is portrayed by soap actor Kyle Lowder. Their stepbrother Andrew, who later joins them, is portrayed by out actor and model Indar Smith.
Immediately upon meeting Dan and Steven, it is apparent that they are very different men. Dan is hyper-masculine and has a chip on his shoulder. Steven is more down to earth and good natured. During the course of their conversations, we come to find out Steven has been going to therapy to work on issues related to his father, his relationships and a disturbing recurring dream he has been having. Dan, on the other hand, rebuffs any attempts at analysis, referring to it as ‘pansy’ behavior and instead concentrates on drinking and sex talk.
We soon discover Dan holds many antiquated beliefs, taught to him by his dad, that are misogynistic, homophobic and racist. As a late boomer himself, he is the definition of toxic masculinity and exemplary of all the troublesome ideology sometimes associated with that generation. Steven is an elder millennial and his philosophy on life and his attempts to better himself are reflective of that. When their stepbrother Andrew comes over for a night, we are treated to his unique Gen Z perspective on things.
It was a great move to explore current political and ideologic tensions by using brothers who represent three different generations and two different races. Andrew, after all, happens to be black. He explains to the audience that while his stepdad loved him and his mom that it was very clear that their dad was racist, apparent by his words and actions. Andrew’s presence helps usher a breakthrough for Dan which creates a window for Steven to continue to push him to open up.
After Andrew leaves Dan and Steven resume their hunt of the godfather buck, an elusive stag they’ve been attempting to catch for six years. Conversations about the past resume and while Dan continues to open up about his marriage and insecurities, Steven broaches a topic that Dan will not budge on. Tensions boil over in the dramatic finale when Dan confronts the traumatic root cause of all his problematic behavior and reveals a shocking secret that has huge ramifications on his and Steven’s life.
Overall, the film was very engaging. I could easily see this translated to the stage. It was dialogue heavy which is not a bad thing except that some of the dialogue did not move the story forward and instead retread information and character flaws we were already aware of. Certain aspects of the story are predictable, but the big final secret revealed at the end was unexpected and caused a re-evaluation of earlier discussions had in the film. The gravity of the information revealed in that scene needed more time to breathe and I feel that the characters moved through it too quickly. Considering the amount of time spent on other things, this deserved more emphasis and would have made the viewer feel like a more solid resolution was reached. Other than that, the film was beautifully shot, and the performances were strong. It is most assuredly worth a watch.
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