[Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival] Chasing Sunshine (2018) - Reviewed

Chasing Sunshine screened at JTIFF

The odd couple trope has become overly familiar, so, when a contemporary reworking of that trope is used, expectations can be high. Sometimes, switching the personalities pitted together through some plot can breathe fresh life into this formula (Lethal Weapon; The Heat; Zombieland).

Chasing Sunshine attempts this by placing real estate agent Jack and actress Darcy, both of whom are struggling to make it in their respective careers in LA, together on a scavenger hunt through North Hollywood. This film produces a couple laughs, though those are sadly not from any of these two character’s interactions.

The clashes of personality here come off as tired and recycled, though the two, like any other odd couple pairing, do come to respect each other. There’s some decent character development throughout the brief 60-minute movie, but this development doesn’t go too much in depth. More of each character’s story is revealed as the film progresses, making the odd couple a better fit for each other.

Darcy, played by Kassie Thornton, steals the show in many scenes where her bubbly character lapses into past monologues when relevant to what’s going on with the scene. Jack, played by Trevor Penick, comparatively seems to try his best, though his grumpy-old-man-like personality isn’t always believable.

In spite of the lack of laughs, the production is top-notch for a small, indie budget movie. Some solid drone camerawork help to capture the streets and environs of LA extremely well, and on-location scenes at various locations in North Hollywood make this scavenger hunt more real.

The characters encountered on the hunt are slightly quirky, though past movies about living in LA usually include much more colorful characters than what Sunshine includes. Sadly, the supporting characters don’t have enough time to display their full plumage of LA quirkiness. Past LA movies (The Big Lebowski, Clueless, Nightcrawler, Mulholland Drive, L.A. Story, Chinatown, just to name a few) excelled at including strange locales, characters, and situations that represent this famed town. Perhaps with a long running time, Sunshine would have been able to accomplish this.

In spite of it’s assumedly small budget, Chasing Sunshine is able to produce a decent odd couple, LA film that, though not too original, works pretty well as a showcase for Kassie Thornton and the production team. 

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-Eric Beach