Phillip the Fossil
Though generic on its outer layer, those who watch this indie drama will get to see that it really is a feature worth applauding. Leading star Brian Hasenfus give a show-stealing performance as the reckless and egotistical Phillip. It should be noted that this is Hasenfus’ debut performance; though you wouldn’t know it by the way he acts in front of the camera.
A supporting cast of unknowns provides the ideal counterbalance to Hasenfus, bringing his strained relationships to the forefront. I found it interesting that Phillip’s friends are all in high school, creating an interesting attitude/mentality dichotomy. It personifies Phillip’s unwillingness to grow up, and adds a layer to the film, though I did find it weird that there weren’t at least a few other characters in his age bracket to support him.
I do respect Donovan’s strive for authenticity, as little was left to the imagination in terms of sex and drugs—believe me, there is plenty of it—however, the dialogue used often seems forced and a bit over-the-top. Granted, these are, for the most part, high-school-aged kids, but their dialogue exchanges seem a bit out of the ordinary.
In terms of the story, I must admit that I found it to be both enticing and entertaining. There is little intensity, but that is normal for a character-centered drama such as this. Humor is intertwined occasionally, though the laughs are few and far between—and that is a good thing. We are focused in on Phillip here, watching as he works to develop his lawn-mowing business and enter into the world of manhood. Unfortunately, many distractions and his current group of friends make that lofty choice a bit harder to carry out.
In the end, Donovan’s film is nowhere near perfect, but it does contain the elements to make it an entertaining character piece. I feel as if I have seen it before, but the efforts of Hasenfus help give the film a bit more heart than what I am used to. It is a fun film, told boldly, that had me applauding from my seat in appreciation.