The International Family Film Festival (IFFF), which took place at the historic Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, October 20-23, kicked off opening night with two features from filmmaker Jeffery Patterson. First, a sequel to his 2014 western, Hot Bath and a Stiff Drink and second, a film going in an entirely new direction for Patterson, Another Day in Paradise.
Another Day in Paradise takes us into the world of a recent widower, played by Patterson, who is trying to reinvent his life, while raising twin teenage girls and running the family business, the Paradise Water Park.
I should have suspected there was something special about this film when the Chaplin Theater filled up and the overflow crowd had to be directed to a second screening room in the studio. Pretty good for a Thursday night. My suspicions were confirmed on Sunday, when Another Day in Paradise won IFFF’s Best Feature Drama Award.
Things that make this film stand out include the themes and the cast.
Not Just Another Teen Flick
On the surface, the plot might sound like just another excuse to film teenagers running around in swim suits. This was not the case. Screenwriter/Actress Judy Norton (The Waltons), put together a script, based on ideas from Patterson, that was moving and values based.
During the question and answer session after the film, Norton shared some challenges that face screenwriters. “Jeffery explained what he wanted,” she said, “then went off to work on another project for three months while I wrote the script. When he got back he told me I had written exactly the story he told me he wanted. Then he said he changed his mind. It was still in a water park, thank goodness, but the story was completely different and we were going to start production in less than 30 days.”
Norton is lucky she can re-write rapidly.
As I watched the story unfold, I found myself questioning the realism of some of the decision and actions of the characters. It wasn’t like the typical Hollywood story-line. Only after the film ended, when a member of the audience stood up to make a comment about the film, did I finally get it.
The audience member praised the film because whenever you’d expect something vengeful, shocking, immoral, or violent to happen, characters decided on the good, charitable option. Gee, a morally uplifting and inspiring film written by Mary Ellen from The Waltons. Who’d a thunk it?
A Very Family, Family Film
For Patterson, this was a special film. “This completed so many things on my bucket list”, he said.
It was the first film he directed and he got to work with his parents and his two daughters, who play his character’s daughters in the film.
Autumn Patterson, as Alexis, and Madeline Paige Patterson, as Brooke, are the protagonists of the film and give excellent performances.
Their dad’s character, Jeremy, has withdrawn from the world after the loss of his wife, spending every night surfing in the wave pool and sleeping in the park.
As Alexis and Brooke deal with the loss of their mom and try to motivate their dad, they face challenges. The believe that their Dad is going to send them away to live with his sister and they are confronted with a mystery involving a day’s proceeds from the park being “misplaced”. Their efforts are complicated by a wing-nut supervisor played by Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle, Sharknado: Heart of Sharkness) and a crew of co-workers who vary from romantic to crazy played by a talented bunch, including Brendan Robinson, Ryan Ochoa and Cameron Palatas.