FEATURE FILM REVIEW
EMPTY NESTER'S HANDBOOK
After their youngest child goes off to college, Ben and Sara are now left all alone in their home.
FOR THOSE WHO don't know, an empty nester is a person or couple whose children have grown up and left home - empty nester's syndrome is the feelings of grief and isolation parents may feel after the fact. For many, the idea of having the house, rather their lives to themselves again is a great one. A pat on the back for a job well done because now, not only are the kids all grown up but the parents are more financially - and mentally stable and can simply do more with their newfound freedom. This is all in theory though because the truth is that the transition is never quite so easy. It's at this point, when their youngest child is finally heading off to college, Ben (Darin Murphy) and Sara (Laura Frances) begin their adventure that is the movie, Empty Nester's Handbook from filmmaker David N. Reyes.
THE NIGHT GOES BRILLIANTLY AND THE TWO CLOSE DOWN THE BAR
The excitement is real and once her son has driven down the road far enough to be safely out of view, Sara cheers as Ben watches in slight confusion. He was worried she wouldn't take finally being "kid-free" all that well and she assures him, it will all catch up to her. In the meantime? It's party time! Ben is all in and the two plan a night of drink, food, music, and games. The night goes brilliantly and the two close down the bar... exit day one.
The next day? As Ben had suspected, it's all finally sinking in and Sara appears devastated. Their son Woody is gone, their daughter has been gone for quite some time, and having just the pets is not the same. She also finds it slightly irritating that Ben doesn't feel the same way, and he assures her that like her, it just hasn't set in yet. As the film progresses, we learn that Ben doesn't have a lot of friends because he's essentially sacrificed them all for his home life, and now that he has much less responsibility, he begins drinking a lot more than usual. Hell, he even wants her to drink more, and why not? It's just them and life is good. Right?
BEN'S SISTER CHARLOTTE ISN'T MAKING THINGS ANY EASIER
Things continue on with scenes of Ben trying to re-learn how to dance and a basket full of different things to do, but the two seem to slowly be getting annoyed by one another. Ben's sister Charlotte (Stephanie Slayton) isn't making things any easier either. For whatever reason, Ben seems to really dislike her - not that he doesn't love her, it's his sister, but finds her really annoying. The film comes to a head when the couple's daughter returns home and is needing a place to live. Empty Nester's Handbook makes things feel like they are going full circle. That's not quite what happens, however, and for Ben, what comes next could possibly be the worst thing ever. I won't spoil the ending, so we'll just leave it at that.
REYES' MOVIE RELIES ON THE FAMILIAR SITUATIONS ANYONE WITH KIDS HAS EXPERIENCED
Empty Nester's Handbook is one of those semi-feel good movies with just enough comedy to keep things light and breezy. From Sara's implication that Ben always falls back on menopause, to a particularly funny scene involving kids and doorbells, David N. Reyes manages to blend the right amount of comedy and seriousness to act as a wink-wink to those in the know. Those who have themselves experienced the plot of the film. Reyes' movie relies on the familiar situations anyone with kids has experienced, or imagines experiencing - while still adding enough to amuse even those without children. This was a pretty good film - and I was glad to have been given the opportunity to have a look. Three and a half out of five stars.
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