Rating: (4 out of 5) Saturday, 10/17/2009, 7:00pm Feature presentation, $10 at Shakespeare Theatre’s Harman Center for the Arts
QUIRKY, QUIPPY Drool starts off with a dreary tone, as timid housewife Anora routinely escapes to a fantasy world while daily suffering the reality of an emotionally abusive husband named Cheb and their baggage-laden kids. Smart-mouthed daughter Tabby (who provides narration for the film) unloads her teen angst through sketches in a notebook, while son Little Pete turns against his mom to curry favor with his critical dad.
But when Imogene moves in next door, peddling ”Kathy K.” cosmetics and pitching a new outlook to Anora, the tone begins to shift. With Little Pete fanning the flames of Cheb’s bitter racism, the latter forbids Anora from letting Imogene in their home. Unsurprisingly, the new friends just grow closer, and when Cheb comes home from work early one day and discovers them together in his bedroom, events transpire to bring the women closer yet.
Soon Anora and Imogene are on a road trip with the kids in tow and a trunk full of trouble, and Drool hits its stride. The cloud of dreariness lifts, the kids are able to loosen up, Anora develops a personality and says goodbye to her fantasy-life lover, and Imogene brings rich texture to the adventure and a healing power to a hurting family.
With the exception of Cheb, who does a great job of earning the viewer’s disrespect, the characters are likable — entertaining when appropriate and deserving of our sympathy and, at times, our empathy. Drool deals with some harsh, heavy content, but doesn’t take itself too seriously — and if it did, it’d probably fail miserably. Instead it makes its points with humor, grace and eccentricity, emerging as a palatable, worthwhile film.
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