My Ranger premiered at the Austin Revolution Film Festival (ARFF), September 19-23, and it was a heck of a lot more than a Ford commercial. It received eight nominations and won ARFF’s Texas Feature Film Award, Best Soundtrack, and Audience Choice-Best Texas. I hope it gets seen way beyond Texas. This film is too good not to be seen all over the country.
I almost passed on this film when I read the log line: “A 17-year old boy gets his first car and is on top of the world until he becomes convinced that someone is trying to steal it.” Ho hum. The slug line on the poster didn’t help, either: “Don’t Mess With a Boy’s First Love.” Really? A boy and his car?
These promotion blurbs don’t to the film justice. Luckily for me, I went to see it anyway, and found a hilarious coming of age/rom-com, filmed in Texas, with a predominantly Texas cast and crew of amazing talent. The film tells three love stories at once. Well, four, if you count the truck.
Woody, played by newcomer Jake Bardin, is 17 and wants a car. The Ranger originally belongs to Garza, played by Austin native and local radio personality Danny Travino. The truck is repossessed and purchased by Woody’s dad, played by Darin Murphy. Woody has Garza’s old truck, but something (I won’t spoil it for you) is in the truck that Garza desperately wants back.
And then there are the ladies. This is where it turns rom-com. Garza’s fiancée, played by Marcelle Purdy, is mad at him for being in financial trouble. Woody’s prime use for the truck becomes courting Lacie, played by Anna Maria Ward. As they realize that their son is “growing up,” Woody’s dad and mom, played by Laura Frances, look for ways to rekindle the spark. All these tales are delightfully intertwined.
Like any good comedy, dating back to Shakespeare at least, much of the humor is driven by misunderstandings and poor judgement. There is also coming-of-age humor based around Woody’s efforts to win the attention of Lacie.
Driving his truck around and around the block where Lacie lives, so she would see him in it, wasn’t working too well. He asks his dad and Garza how to win her heart. Do you know what a mix tape is? Woody didn’t, but he finds out.
There is also witty banter between Woody and his sister, played by Kathleen Brown, and his best buddy Zipper, played by Chris Proutt.
His sister is the archetypal give-brother-a-hard-time type: “Your itty-bitty used truck.” Zipper, whose nickname you’ll have to learn about while watching the film, is a schemer and a Star Wars geek. He wears a “Han Shot First” t-shirt.
Then, of course, there is a catapult launched balloon full of urine.
The trailer is linked below.