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VINE VOICEon March 10, 2011
In theaters (very limited art house showings) and on DVD, SPOONER is the best little romantic comedy I've seen in a long time. It's in the same league as ONCE, NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, JUNO, and LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (among others) and superior to anything Adam Sandler, Jennifer Anniston or Drew Barrymore has done in the last decade.

Used car salesman Herman Spooner (Matthew Lillard) still lives at home with his mom and dad. He's almost 30 and his folks have set that date for his exit from the nest. At work, his boss warns Spooner that if his sales numbers don't increase, he can look for a new job.

On this worst day of his life, Spooner meets Rose, the girl of his dreams (Nora Zehetner) stranded by the roadside. Against all odds, the goofy, awkward - perhaps mentally challenged -- Spooner focuses all his energy on winning the heart of the adorable, winsome gamine. On an unexpected but remarkable first date, Rose says she's about to leave for the Philippines. Can Spooner convince Rose to stay in town and show her he's the real deal and ultimate spooner?

This is the first movie from director Drake Doremus. He was 25 when he made this hilarious, understated, sweet, nearly pitch perfect film about the coming of age of a child-man. The sly story is by Doremus and co writers Lindsay Stidham and Jonathan Schwartz; the screenplay is by Stidham.

Don't be put off by the terrible DVD cover, this overlooked gem is a delight and definitely worth finding. From Maya Entertainment.
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on February 3, 2012
This is one of those obscure independent films one would never have seen but for the generosity of a movie channel provider. Hence I feel obliged to add another 5-star review just in case there should be any doubt this is a not to be missed movie charm fest.

Much of which is derived from its location in Monrovia. A sweet town on the foothills north of Los Angeles - which is the epicenter of Spooner's entire world. Spooner being a 29 year-old who lives with his parents, has a sinecure job as a hopeless car salesman and who drives home every day to eat lunch with his mother. But as expertly underplayed by Matthew Lillard he's also an innocent loser - with such a kind nature he lacks all the required mental and vocal skills to combat his more worldly workmates and repellant boss.

The plot's premise is incredibly simple. In one day's time, when he turns 30 Spooner will be forcibly ejected (for his own good) from his parents' home. Despite which what remains uppermost in Spooner's mind is the prospect of obtaining "a killer" surround-sound system for his yet to be found "killer" bachelor pad. Meaning there can be only one solution to his immanent crisis - divine intervention.

Which of course arrives in the form of a too-beautiful-to-be-true Californian princess. Any doubt about the plausibility of their romance being resolved with one masterly scriptwriters' stroke - by having Nora Zehetner copy Spooner's awkward formal conversational style from the moment they meet. With an identical sweet childish approach to life at this point it's safe to assume Spooner's and Rose's problems are going to be happily resolved within 24 hours. And for that reason don't need to be described.

But what does need explaining is how what could have been an insipid love story transcends the usual conventions of this genre. What changes the entire tone of this movie was the opportunity to film the second act at night in the lurid "Aztec Hotel - a genuine Monrovia landmark - where Rose has been sent for an overnight stay.

But before Spooner can woo her he's sent on a dreadful "date" arranged by his parents.. One guesses some of the best dialog in this movie was improvised but the extraordinary ability of Wendi Mcclendon-Covey to capture the jaded desperation of a well past-her-prime female warrior suggests all her lines and their hypnotic delivery were entirely her own creation Her parting remark when staggering out of Spooner's car being "If you don't put out I'll have to look elsewhere'.

After he gets spruced-up in the hotel's (real) adjacent barber shop the next scene takes place in Rose's dark blue Aztec bedroom - where true love hesitatingly but inexorably blossoms. The only doubt one has about what happened after the fade-out of this scene was the scriptwriters' decision not to fully explain how much "spooning" actually took place.

Presumably nothing went too seriously wrong or the third act wouldn't have resolved all their subsequent communication problems - with the hero at last making a positive decision to spring into action, search, find and make an agreement with his heroine to exchange faxes and hopefully share their lives when she returns from a teaching job in the Philippines. A pact followed by an unusually fast and satisfying happy ending with Spooner setting up his sound system in a brand new pad accompanied by an appropriately plaintiff celebratory song - "Oh Mandy" (by the Spinto Band on YouTube).

Yes, it would be easy to write-off this film as a lightweight modern-day fairy story. But it's been a long time since I've seen any movie which so accurately captures the mores of southern California's less illustrious citizens. Men just like Spooner - who couldn't have been more sensitively portrayed by any actor but Matthew Lillard. Not forgetting Nora Zehetner playing her opposing winsome gamin role to the same level of perfection.
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on October 26, 2011
I've seen this movie twice now on Netflix and I just ordered the DVD here on Amazon. I have no connection to this movie, other than having additionally seen it at a film festival last year. This is one of the most underrated indie films ever made, and I've seen hundreds. I can't speak highly enough about "Spooner" or recommend it enough to my friends. Matthew Lillard is just simply magnificent in this. He had me busting a gut at several points and crying (like a wuss) for him at others - and I don't cry easily! His (what have to be) improvisational moments in conversation with costar Nora Zehetner are so charming and sweet to watch without coming across in the least as sappy. Chris McDonald is priceless as his father, bringing real humor and substance to what could have been a forgettable or overlooked role. And Nora Zehetner as "Rose" is infinitely watchable. Cute as a button, but with a depth to her character that makes Spooner's comically deranged infatuation with her forgivable. Their chemistry is amazing, their relationship charming and quirky and strange, and their futures as sure and unsure as Spooner's (hilarious) blind date's aim to get laid (by Spooner) tonight. See this film. Fantastic.
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on January 13, 2013
I don't know if it was the mood we were in or if this is just a lighthearted movie, but we liked it enough to purchase it for one of our kids. I'd liken the main character to Napoleon Dynamite - light?
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on April 18, 2013
A lot of people did not like this ,, but I did,, it is pretty funny and has a little bit of everything, to make it worth while flick
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