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Reeling in “I’m Reed Fish”

As seen at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival

As seen at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival

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Capitalizing on what screenwriter Reed Fish calls his very own “stage name” as the title of his first feature film, “I’m Reed Fish” offers audiences a rare coming-of-age story that is unique and original. The Character Reed Fish is played with winsome charm by TV’s Jay Baruchel of Just Legal and Are You Afraid of the Dark?

The fictional movie character Reed Fish leads a life filled with obligations and traditions. He has inherited his father’s home, his father’s radio station, and his father’s call-in complaint radio show, which must address the pressing issues of rural Mud Meadows—overgrown hedges, missing stop signs, and renegade animals. Reed is dating the town beauty Kate, played by Gilmore gal, Alexis Bledel, yet to heighten the maturity and tragicomedy they are engaged. And finally, Reed, too, has his sidekick, the faithful friend, Frank, played by the engaging Independent Spirit Award nominated actor, Victor Rasuk. Yet when Reed’s long-time friend and romantic interest Jill returns home after unsuccessfully trying college and making it as a singer-songwriter, “Fish” finally swims on his own.

Schuyler Fisk as Jill steals this show. Schuyler Fisk not only brings to the film her wholesome girl-next-door beauty, but also her musical talents. For the film, Fisk recorded and actually plays her own original music to create the character of Jill, who embodies Reed’s moral dilemma. Reed must decide between the life he was destined to lead, walking in his father’s safe but successful footsteps, or the one where he can stand on his own two feet, filled with uncertainty and passion, a choice the audience clearly understands due to Fisk’s adept portrayal.

Like most appealing independent films, the celebrity supporting cast lends talent and presence to round out Fish’s quirky Mud Meadow’s inhabitants. First there is maternal Mayor Maureen, played with grace and understatement by sitcom star Katey Sagal. Chris Parnell of SNL fame plays a small but memorable role of the town barman, Ralph, who gives Jill her first break, and finally Fish’s crazy-in-love friends, Andrew and Theresa, light up the screen with perfect comedic timing due to the incredible DJ Qualls and perky AJ Cook (both of TV’s Criminal Minds).

First time director Zackary Adler handles both his ingénue and seasoned cast members with much aplomb. He even manages to juggle both writer Fish’s character development and cleaver plot structure with success. And while the film fights hard to strike a careful balance between its dramatic and comedic heights, it ironically shines in the quiet moments, like when Reed goes to fix the flat tire of a neighbor or dreams on the roof with Jill. Ultimatley, “I’m Reed Fish” finds its voice and hopefully this voice will be heard soon at a theatre near you!