I have been a “Supernatural” fan for many years (some say I am obsessed, but I am not sure that is completely un-true) and have been following Jensen Ackles’ (Dean Winchester) career by watching the movies he makes. One such movie is “Ten Inch Hero” which was really hard to find for a while. Now I hear it is available for rental here in the states, but that was not always the case. For whatever reason, it was not released here. Luckily, I found it on the video on demand section of Amazon and was able to download it. Now I own it and am I glad I do.
Let me start by saying that basically I am not a touchy-feely person, I prefer action movies to romances. I love a good chase scene as opposed to a love scene. I have never seen “Steel Magnolias” or “Fried Green Tomatoes” because they are just not my thing. Plus I really hate to cry at a movie.
That rule got broken today while I watched “Ten Inch Hero.” To be honest, I probably would not have watched this movie had it not been for the “Supernatural” connection and that would have been a shame and my loss. This is a wonderful movie about the true human condition and is played with honesty and humor.
The story begins with Piper (played by Elisabeth Harnois). She is a young woman riding her bike from the Santa Cruz Institute of Art to an address in town, as she rides by she sees a child’s bike on the porch and she leaves abruptly. She rides past the Beach City Grill and notices an unusual help wanted sign in the window. It says “Normal People Need Not Apply.” She enters and explains that she is not normal and is given a series of interview questions which include “Elvis: dead or alive” and a few more. After that, the owner, Trucker (played by John Doe), takes a vote of everyone there and Piper is hired.
On her way to work the next day, she passes the same house but a car is pulling in the driveway and she watches a man and a little girl get out of the car. They go into the house. Piper quickly crosses the road and continues to work. Enter Priestly (played by Jensen Ackles) the cook, he proceeds to grill Piper about what she is doing there and claims they need an employee bulletin board or email to keep up with things going on.
Working at the grill already are Jen (played by Clea DuVall) and Tish (played by Dannell Harris). Jen is a plain looking girl with mad computer skills and true compassion for people. Tish is very attractive and knows it. She “plays” guys all the time and is a serial dater. Trucker, the owner, is a surfer dude and looks that part completely, right down to his VW love bus.
The woman who owns the crystal shop across the street, Zoe (played by Alice Krige), is the secret longing of Trucker. He is so nervous that every time she walks in he freezes up. Plus there are several regular customers who are all quirky and lovable.
The setting for the movie is Santa Cruz, California. The cinematography is truly amazing. The tourism council of Santa Cruz should use this footage, it is that stunning. The ocean is beautiful, the foliage is lush and green, flowers are everywhere, the sun is always out and the breeze makes the temperature perfect. It is really filmed beautifully and that adds to the likeableness of this movie.
Everyones lives start to take shape. Piper is in Santa Cruz because at 15 she had a baby girl that she was forced to give up for adoption and believes she found her here. Jen has been communicating with a person on line for over a year. They talk about everything from movies, books, politics and more. Yet they know nothing personal about each other. Eventually, her Internet friend, Fuzzy22, wants to meet. Tish is very pretty and uses men like there is no tomorrow. She is always in control until she meets Brad and he throws her off a bit. Priestly’s life is not in focus as much as the girls are, but you know there is something that is not being said. Trucker keeps pining away for Zoe.
One day while riding past the mystery house, Piper sees the dad and the little girl ride their bikes to the beach and she follows. At the beach the little girl starts drawing rocks and the dad flies a kite. When the wind picks up the little girl’s drawing, Piper saves it. The dad introduces himself as Noah (played by Sean Patrick Flannery) and Julia (played by Adair Tishler) to Piper and she introduces herself back as Anna. She was afraid he would recognize her name from the adoption papers. The chance meeting is sweet and sad all at the same time. She has another chance meeting with them and is asked to give Julia private art lessons. This starts a relationship between the three.
Meanwhile back at the sub shop, Jen’s Internet friend wants to meet and Tish flirts with and falls for a rich kid, Brad, who “sucks up to his loaded father” as a profession. Jen is nervous about meeting Fuzzy22, but the other girls decided to take the road trip with her to be sure she is okay. Tish ends up dating Brad but one knows it will not end well.
The girls go down to the meeting place that Fuzzy22 come up with and scope out the people at the bar. Jen keeps saying that looks are not important, yet when they finally see Fuzzy22 she runs out of the bar never having met him. The conversation that ensues is spot on! Jen explains to the two pretty girls, that handsome men don’t go out of their way to meet plain girls; they want the Tishs’ of the world. No one has ever pushed Tish out of the way to get to her. Jen asks the girls how many proms they missed because no one asked them. She makes a compelling argument and you can feel her pain. She doesn’t want to be a disappointment to Fuzzy22 and feels its best to just leave it alone. The girls try to make Jen feel better by saying that being pretty isn’t all that and that she has so many wonderful qualities. Jen then says that she is not saying that she doesn’t have those qualities just that most people won’t even find out that she has them because of her looks. She will always be discounted. Being a plain girl myself, I can say that was a brutally honest portrayal of that situation from the girls’ perspective.
When they get back to Santa Cruz, Trucker is waiting to hear what happened and can tell by the looks on their faces it did not go well. He hugs a sobbing Jen and I unleashed some tears of my own. Later in the day, Priestly comes in all excited to hear what happened. Tish takes him aside and explains. He gets mad at Jen for doing the one thing she did not want Fuzzy22 to do, but that she did. She determined the outcome of the situation by his looks and how unfair that was to Fuzzy22. He then walks out, followed by Tish. They have a conversation about judging people by their looks that applies to Jen and Fuzzy and to Tish and himself.
Meanwhile, Tish is still dating Brad and he is getting more and more douchy. He is really horrible to her. One night while they are having sex, his room comes in and expects a three-way. They claim it happens all the time and show their true colors. Neither of the guys cares about the women and Tish goes to leave. There is some shoving and she hits her head on the dresser. She is okay and is able to leave before anything terrible happens. But you can see it is a turning point for her. This game she has been playing is a very dangerous one. The next day at work, she claims she fell while rollerblading, but no one buys that story.
Piper, Noah and Julia are getting closer by the day. One night after working late, Noah asks Piper to stay and have dinner with him (since she did make it) and they talk. She asks where Mrs. Miller is and Noah cannot talk about it and Piper leaves knowing she intruded.
One night at work, Brad comes in to pick up Tish and she leaves with him. Only this time she does not get in the car, she tries to break it off with him citing that he and Tad are probably gay and need to come clean about it. With that he hits her and out of nowhere comes Priestly to save the day. Unfortunately, he is not Dean Winchester and he gets pretty beat up by Brad. Out of the shadows comes Trucker and he takes Brad down hard and lets him know it is not okay to ever go near Tish again.
Everyone is confused about their surfer boss and he takes them all back to his place. He explains that he used to be the football star and had all the girls then he got drafted. Then it was figured out that he was a good shot and was able to kill as needed which he did for many years. He lost track of how many after the second tour of duty. Once back in the states he met up with some surfers and he changed his life and his name. That is why he is so nervous being around Zoe because of the terrible things he had done. Turns out that he actually went to high school with Zoe and that she knows all about him.
As with any movie the situations have to come to a head and then be resolved. I don’t want to spoil this movie any more than I already have. All I can tell you is the relationships are handled so beautifully and so realistically as the acting is superb. It had the right amount of angst, laughter and heartfelt emotion. It is what life should be like; friendship, loyalty and wanting the best for others. Why it never got promoted I will never know. I feel in love with the characters and the place. My hope is that you will too.
This movie is rated R as there are sexual situations and nudity. It was put out by Brave New Films. It was directed by David Mackay and written by Betsy Morris.