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The Over the Hill Band

Marilou Mermans gets her Susan Boyle on in The Over the Hill Band. [Photo: NeoClassics Films Ltd.]

The Over the Hill Band 2.5 out of 4

star2-5

The Over the Hill Band lacks artistry, but it remains a somewhat uniquely oddball diversion, though a tedious opening act makes it a bit of a long haul getting there. The sudden death of Jean (Francoius Beukalaers) triggers seismic shifts among his surviving family members: two nearly middle-aged sons, Michel (Lucas van der Eynde) and Sid (Jan van Looveren), and the much older wife/mother Claire (Merilou Mermans), who was Jean's passenger when he bit the dust behind the wheel. Undaunted by her moderate injuries (and annoyed by Michel's newfound overprotection), Claire wants to help the creative but unsuccessful Sid get his long-gestating musical career off the ground, and convinces her old musical group—a female rock 'n roll cover band called the Sisters of Love—to get back together for the project. Although initially happy at her being active once more, Michel ultimately resents his mother's charity once he learns of his brother's involvement.

Echoing the cavernous void of Sister Act 2, The Over the Hill Band makes clear early on that act three is heading toward the Big Musical Competition, and already the plot's dominos would seem to be lined up in expectedly unimaginative fashion. (Spoilers ahead.) About halfway through the film, however, things start picking up, notably in a scene of particular hilarity in which a young black man nearly gives an otherwise prude 70-year-old white woman an inadvertent orgasm. Sid's music is the kind of sterotypical R&B old people might expect young people to listen to, so it isn't long before Sid is turning it down on the fellatio references in his lyrics and forging something more palatable (but still true to his vision) on which to include the once-successful trio. Director Geoffrey Enthoven's film may frequently want for originality, but it excels moderately on its more than sufficient sincerity; it's tacky but doesn't front. Despite the clunky plot establishment, there are some legitimate surprises to eventually be had, and the film ultimately ends on a note that suggests All That Jazz by way of Away from Her. It's all kind of indistinct (creatively, qualitatively, categorically), but I'll take modest intentions and muddled, semi-successful ambition over easy outs and glossed up junk any day of this week. It's a memorable film, if perhaps a slight one.

Director(s): Geoffrey Enthoven Screenwriter(s): Chris Craps, Lean-Claude van Rijckeghem Cast: Merilou Mermans, Jan van Looveren, Lucas van der Eynde, Lut Tomsin, Lea Couzin, Barbara Sarafian, Greg Timmermans, Jurgen Delnaet, Francois Beukelaers Distributor: NeoClassics Films Ltd. Runtime: 98 min Rating: NR Year: 2009

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