Urban Scarecrow, the second feature by up-and-coming Seattle director Andrew McAllister, is a poignant look at the dismal life of a Seattle teen who, in the aftermath of his mother's death six years earlier, has been barely scraping out an existence in a fleabag motel with his loser father. If you've ever gone through a really crappy time in your life -- one of those times when the thunderclouds never seem to stop hovering directly above your head, and it seems no matter how hard you try, you're floundering desperately just to keep your head above water, Urban Scarecrow might just speak to you.

The film's protagonist, Wes Downs (17-year-old Peter Richards), is a scruffy adolescent who, like the proverbial scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, is stuck with a pole up his back, unable to move or to see clearly how to change things. His father, Frank, a struggling stand-up comedian who barely keeps the roof of their dank and depressing motel room over their heads with a series of temp jobs, dreams of success and a better life, but takes little palpable action to achieve it. Frank has big dreams, but seems unable to generate the forward momentum to act on them. He occasionally works up the energy to nag Wes about enrolling in an alternative high school, but otherwise provides no guidance or discipline to get his son back in school. Wes and Frank have been suspended in this existence, like scarecrows in a field being endlessly pecked at and shat on by crows, for so long, that neither of them seem to know how to break their inertia and make a new way.

categories Reviews, Cinematical