Gigi and Nate2022.
Directed by Nick Hamm.
Starring Charlie Rowe, Marcia Gay Harden, Jim Belushi, Diane Ladd, Josephine Langford, Zoe Colletti, Hannah Riley, Sasha Compère, Olly Sholotan, Emilio Garcia-Sanchez, Mishel Prada, Welker White, Lindsay Ayliffe, Rae Becka, Sean Hankinson and Pat Dorch.
The life of a young man turns upside down after becoming quadriplegic. Moving forward seems almost impossible until he meets his unlikely service animal, Gigi, a curious and intelligent capuchin monkey.
from director Nick Hamm Gigi and Nate has a relatively unpleasant start. It’s no secret that 17-year-old Nate (a questionable casting choice in Charlie Rowe, which nonetheless turns in a solid performance) is going to suffer a tragedy and require the help of the capuchin monkey on duty Gigi (this goes for searching for objects). , simple companionship, emotional support, and more).
The extended prologue celebrating the 4th of July mistakenly piles on that inevitable horror as if it were a Final destination movie; Nate plunges off a cliff, joins his older sister and her boyfriend on a boating adventure with a local girl he charms into joining them, a storm brews possibly suggesting he was struck by lightning and Finally, a lot of pain takes over during dinner. It turns out that plummeting into a body of water ended up giving Nate meningitis.
Before and during the ER visit, David Hudgins’ script introduces viewers to Nate’s immediate family. This ranges from the artistically inclined mother Claire (played by Marcia Gay Harden, who uses a “Karen” expression throughout the film, especially when she demands a helicopter to airlift her brain-damaged son to a larger hospital close to home instead of accepting the dangerous reality of the situation and undergoing the necessary stability precautions and initial evaluation at the perfectly acceptable facility from which he is already receiving medical support), Dad Dan (a bland Jim Belushi who seems bored and as if she didn’t want to be in the movie, much less part of the dysfunctional family at the center), older sister Katy (Josephine Langford), younger sister Annabelle (Hannah Riley), and the sassy, outspoken grandmother known as Mama Gibson ( Diane Ladd).
There are not many smart and creative options in Gigi and Nate (inspired by a real-life capuchin monkey and a quadriplegic), but thankfully, the movie has the good sense to fast-forward four years until Nate adjusted a bit to a quadriplegic lifestyle. Naturally, he’s still battling depression, but optimism and potential happiness are on the horizon when he’s finally granted a service animal.
One of the only worthwhile scenes here is also the initial encounter between the disabled man and the helpful creature that takes place in a shelter where service animals are trained, with Elliott Davis cinematography following the monkey’s eyes as he Nate circles the room in his electric wheelchair (and I’ll be supporting the filmmakers to get those details right and use a real, high-quality wheelchair), gently introducing himself and getting acquainted.
After a deeply miscalculated opening act, the filmmakers can now focus on the bond between the main characters. It’s also noticeable that the filmmakers seem to be taking other aspects of Nate’s life seriously, such as receiving assistance from a home helper and regularly scheduled physical therapy (which, from personal experience, is accurately depicted). The four-year time jump also allows Charlie Rowe to portray Nate with a sense of humor regarding his condition rather than taking viewers through the inner pain.
The problem is that the tone of Gigi and Nate is nothing more than your standard disability inspirational porn. It’s a confident and decidedly conventional portrayal of this life (there are maybe two serious moments) and how a service animal can help an emotionally and mentally struggling family.
To make matters worse, the story also slips into wish-fulfillment territory; Remember that girl he seduced on a boat ride four years ago before she got meningitis? Her name is Lori (Zoe Colletti) and she currently works at a grocery store. In an artificial way, they meet again and quickly fall in love, with Nate invited to a college event, where Gigi becomes as popular as a game of beer pong.
The older sister, Katy, is now married to her longtime boyfriend and stopped being in contact with Nate after the incident. When she walks by, she immediately expresses her disapproval of her using a monkey as a service animal. For some reason, that part of her character disappears with little reason. Mom and Dad also frequently bicker because caring for Nate has taken a toll on their lives.
If that wasn’t plot enough for Gigi and Nate, the young man also goes viral on social networks and has to deal with an animal rights activist (Welker White) who believes that the monkey is dangerous, among other things. There are scenes of protesters going on a rampage outside the family home, and the film turns into an over-the-top courtroom drama where Nate makes his case for why he should be allowed to remain in Gigi’s possession.
On paper, this is a fascinating debate, but this film is without nuance. It’s all sentimental cliffhanger, and I wish I could throw it off the same cliff Nate throws himself off of in the opening. There’s no sincere attempt to say or do anything insightful here, and the final bits of dialogue are so cheesy one could puke.
Flashing Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the reviews editor for Flickering Myth. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at [email protected]