Big News from Grand Rock (2014)
Editor’s Notes: Big News from Grand Rock opens February 27th in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa.
The eulogy for print media is written pretty much daily. Cries of “Print is dead!” have existed for years, and despite the fact that print is very much not dead a mythology has risen up around epithets for this lost art. There’s a wistfulness for the lost prominence of the print newspaper (or for its more verbose cousins, the magazine and the book) that is undeniable—gone is the time when most people sat down with a morning paper printed on paper—an institution has past its prime, and left many acolytes adrift. Big News from Grand Rock uses this feeling as its emotional linchpin, undergirding a silly, lightweight story about a journalist who decides to make up some stories to keep his local weekly paper afloat.
Big News from Grand Rock uses this feeling as its emotional linchpin, undergirding a silly, lightweight story about a journalist who decides to make up some stories to keep his local weekly paper afloat.
Leonard (Ennis Esmer) is the endlessly optimistic editor of The Weekly Ledger, a paper that is constantly on the verge of shuttering after serving the community for 90 years. Working under ancient editor Stan (Gordon Pinsent) and with a ragtag staff of barely competent misfits (Peter Keleghan steals scenes as a drily idiotic reporter who pitches stories like a local woman buying a lottery ticket and uses phrases like “planting plants” in his writing), Leonard does his best to keep the paper afloat. When things get especially dire, he decides to start creating stories by renting DVDs from the local video store (despite no references to this movie taking place ten years ago, it might make more sense to think of it that way) and basically lifting their plots whole cloth to create gripping front page news. When one of his stories catches the attention of a big city reporter (Meredith MacNeill), the whole thing threatens to come apart.
Big News from Grand Rock spends very little time on making its characters realistic, nor on making its plot particularly plausible. Leonard’s desperation is something we are supposed to take for granted, as is his prior (and inevitably regained) integrity. The Weekly Ledger is a great institution worth saving because there is no movie otherwise. And though Leonard’s scheme is completely transparent from the first, we are supposed to buy that it takes some real snooping to discover Leonard is stealing his stories from well known movies.
The film doesn’t amount to much from a plot or character perspective, instead leaning on a generally amiable feeling and occasional laughs to fill out its runtime. The script is neither insightful nor funny enough to completely overcome its shortcomings, and the cast never completely seems at home in their characters’ skins (except Keleghan, who nails everything about his character). Yet the film works better than it has any right to because everyone here is reasonably likable, and because while no bold new trails are blazed here, there are no horrible missteps either. The tone is light enough that the absurd convolutions and scant justifications aren’t really troublesome, and while this isn’t a movie likely to stick with you for weeks after you leave the theaters, its also not one you’re likely to be furious you saw. Big News from Grand Rock keeps its ambitions small enough that its failures to completely achieve them are more frequently charming than truly disappointing.
Big News from Grand Rock keeps its ambitions small enough that its failures to completely achieve them are more frequently charming than truly disappointing.