Saturday, August 28, 2010
HEROES OF THE HEART
aka PARADISE PARK
A group of people in West Virginia, who were flooded out of their homes, were each given a mobile home by the government. This group all reside in a trailer park called Paradise Park, the original name of this movie, which has been re-titled Heroes Of The Heart (HOTH). One morning an elderly woman awakes and tells the other residents that she had a vision and if they will all meet that evening, God will arrive and grant them each a wish. Whether her vision is a result of dementia or just a desire to have all the residents gather together is up to the viewer. The movie takes place for the most part in one day as we see the residents living their everyday lives and later gathering for a picnic to await God. Along the way, several of the residents have a fantasy sequence about what they wish their life was really like. The movie concludes with a short coda on how things exist the next day at the trailer park.
The acting in HOTH varied from professional to amateurish with one of the most amateurish being the lead actor, Larry Groce (best known for his song, "Junk Food Junkie" and as host of NPR's Mountain Stage). Larry Groce is a good musician and a great host, but acting is definitely not for him. I'm assuming he must have decided the same, since as far as I can tell, this is the only movie that he attempted.
I was torn about Webb Wilder's performance, since it is almost over the top. His character, Cowboy, has brain damage as the result of a car wreck. His brain damage has resulted in him not only thinking that he receives alien transmissions, but also that he is a REAL cowboy. His fantasy sequence shows him in a shootout with another cowboy played by Razzy Bailey. I could never decide if Webb was playing his character too broad OR if that was just the way his part was written.
Johnny Paycheck doesn't have a large part, he's just one of the people that happens to live at the trailer park. He does have a few lines and his performance was good enough that I really think that if I didn't know who he was, I would have just thought he was another actor in the cast. Which brings us to the best actor/musician in HOTH, Porter Wagoner, who plays the Governor of West Virginia. Maybe it's because Porter sang so many story songs and songs with recitations that allows him to deliver such a a great performance. Whatever the case, he gives a speech to the residents of the trailer park that is one-hundred per cent believable.
The only other musician that I spotted in the cast was T. Graham Brown. As Larry Groce is sitting in a bar tending to his broken heart, we see T. Graham, in a non-speaking part, hanging out by the pool table (his role is listed as Pool Player) while his song "This Wanting You" plays in the background.
Even though the fantasy sequences got old after a while and a few times the movie attempted to deliver some heavy-handed messages, by the end of the movie I had really been drawn into these lives of the characters at Paradise Park and cared about what happened to them. HOTH is classified as drama, but it's actually very humorous throughout. My personal opinion is that they made a mistake changing the aptly titled Paradise Park to Heroes Of The Heart.
I couldn't find a trailer for the movie, but below is Larry Groce singing "Junk Food Junkie" on Mountain Stage.