Saturday, May 30, 2020

Review: The S.S. Swenson

Release date: January 28, 2019 (Digital Release: May 11, 2020)
Running time: 89 minutes
Starring:  Jono Robertson, Alex Gainer, Olga Elliot, Cole Selby

The S.S. Swenson follows three degenerates as they battle the demons of grief in a fantasy world they've built around themselves.  After their father dies, the three siblings Swan (Gainer), Ricky (Robertson), and Bonnie (Elliot) come together to grieve but dull the pain in booze and drugs.  Although their antics are mostly harmless, they do resort to petty theft to fuel their habits.  However, when Ricky accidentally tries to break into a house, only to get a job as a nanny, their whole lives (and the lives of the family he is nannying for) change forever. 

The S.S. Swenson is filled with quirky characters. The Swenson kids themselves are a unique group of people; each sibling's very different personality blend together into a chaotic family whole.  Swan has the most gregarious personality, as the captain of the three rag tag bunch, but his character is also one that did not resonate with me.  He does a good job and puts forth an effort, but I just didn't love the fake captain persona.  Bonnie is sweet but does not have enough personality between the three. Ricky is a good character, and one that you root for.  He keeps trying to do the right thing but keeps getting dragged down by his siblings.  And Cookie (Selby), the young boy that Ricky nannies, is fun to watch and relatable if you have ever been a slightly awkward kid.  The rest of the characters are quirky but I didn't like them, including the antagonist character.

The S.S. Swenson has some good, imaginative moments, but a lot of the film seems odd for the sake of being odd.  Characters make some pretty bad decisions, but the destructive moments aren't destructive enough and everything gets resolved too easily.  As I mentioned, the family does a lot of petty crime to make ends meet, but they're all fixed with a jolly laugh and no consequences.  And when there is a big consequential decision, that decision and the consequences after do not have the gravity that it should.  The emotional scenes themselves don't hit as well, and some of the stranger scenes, such as anything with the antagonist, just seem like they're trying too hard.  And finally, the siblings make some pretty terrible decisions but also change a little too quickly.  

In the end, the S.S. Swenson has a cast of quirky characters and a ton of heart, but the voyage suffers from poor navigation and a lack of wind behind its sails.

Rent it.
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