The Pickle Recipe (Michael Manasseri, 2016): USA

Review by Phill Hunziker. Viewed as part of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2016.

There is a place in the world for films like this. Upbeat indie comedies have the fortune of lower expectations. They don’t have to try too hard for the big laugh; that’s not what’s expected. Films like this require a solid premise, consistent giggle/laugh-inducing bits and a well-crafted sweetness that either commentates on human nature or invokes sentimental feeling. The Pickle Recipe hits all three thanks to enlightened direction, an inspiring cast and the smooth collaboration between all involved.

Joey Miller (Jon Dore) is a good-hearted party MC who just cannot catch a break. After an absurd disaster at a wedding destroys his equipment, his ability to put on the best bar-mitzvah for his daughter, Julie (Taylor Groothuis), is up in the air. Up to his neck in debt and desperation, he is convinced by his sleazy uncle Morty (David Paymer) to steal his grandmother Rose’s (Lynn Cohen) famed pickle recipe. He enlists his good friend and struggling ‘comic’ Ted (Eric Edelstein) for aid. As he gets closer to his complex-but-loving grandmother and those who

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The Little Prince, (Mark Osborne, 2015): France

Reviewed by Anna Acuna. Viewed at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, 2016. Arlington Theater.

In a stroke of luck for Santa Barbarians and visiting festival goers, “The Little Prince”, directed and produced by Mark Osborne premiered at the Santa Barbara Film Festival this year. The film is adapted from the 1943 book, “Le Petit Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, one of the most beloved novellas of the 20th century, in many countries.  The aesthetically engaging stop animation film strummed the heartstrings of viewers of all ages with messages and themes that are unsettlingly close to home for many adults. Jeff Bridges’ crustily endearing voice as the Aviator is one of the major highlights of the film, and other major actors like Rachel McAdams, James Franco, and Paul Rudd make a vocal appearance.

In an interview, Osborne said that the storyline was created for “anybody who is or once was a child”. The storybook-like movie starts with an overbearing single mother (Rachel McAdams) and a little girl, in their own small and lonely suburban life. It is summer break and the Little Girl (Mackenzie Foy) is being shopped around to private schools in

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