A few weeks ago I was asked to review Bennett’s Song, an independent film that tells the story of how widower Cole Bennett (Harley Wallen) and divorced dentist Susan Song (Aphrodite Nikolovski) meet, get married, and blend their unique families together. An important detail? Each parent has seven adopted children, all from different backgrounds, making for a very large family group. The film was directed by Harley Wallen, whose recent credits include Betrayed (2018), Halt: The Motion Picture (2018) and Moving Parts (2017).
The plot reminds me very much of Yours, Mine and Ours (1968, remade in 2005), a family comedy where a widowed father with 10 children and a widowed mother with 8 children get married and live under a single roof. And similar to that film, we see how Cole and Susan meet (and how friends and family on both sides have been not-so-subtly nudging them into dating again). It’s a cute premise but I feel the story takes a long time to really get going. There are several date scenes filled with exposition (including how the pair are dancing around the idea of whether they should tell the other that they have 7 kids already). And while I understand that information dumps are sometimes necessary in films, I think these scenes ran several minutes too long, or at least could have been cut differently. I do really appreciate the diversity present in the kids; there’s Latino, Asian, African-American and also Caucasian (one of Cole’s daughters is deaf as well).
My favorite performance in the film comes from Tara Reid who plays the slightly uptight, slightly snobbish Stevie Hawkins-White, the new neighbor of the Bennett Song family after they move into their new home. She doesn’t come straight out and act like a snob (not at first anyways), but through her performance you can tell exactly what the character is thinking about this family. She’s the epitome of the super-perfect housewife/soccer mom (with shades of Stepford Wives) and you love to hate her from the moment she appears.
The big conflict in the film revolves around the family struggling to be accepted as…just that, a family. The kids have to struggle against prejudice from people who don’t believe that kids who look so different could be siblings. It’s really moving how they all stand up for themselves. There’s also a really great plot involving Pearl (Calhoun Koenig), one of the kids, working to fulfill her dream of going to a special music camp.
In conclusion, if you enjoy family comedies, I believe you will like Bennett’s Song. It does take a while to really get going, but once it does it’s a fun little film. I’m also deeply impressed with how well all of the child actors performed (it’s quite an accomplishment given the wide range of ages involved). I’m grateful for the opportunity to review this film, if you’ve seen it I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments below. Have a great day!
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