First Hit: It was an obvious feel good movie and it worked reasonably well.
Frank Fisher (Nick Offerman) is a failing vinyl record store owner in Brooklyn, NY. He’s raising his biracial daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) alone and she’s just about to go away to UCLA enrolled in their pre-med program.
He seems stuck in his record store and in an early scene, he lights up a cigarette while standing behind the cash register. When his only customer points out that it is against the law to smoke, Frank doesn’t care. The customer leaves and in view of Frank and the audience, he makes the vinyl record purchase from Amazon via his phone.
Frank is staying in Brooklyn because his mother Marianne (Blythe Danner) is struggling in her old age. At one point, early on, he’s called to pick her up from a small store because she was caught shoplifting. His Brooklyn store is also near where his wife died while riding a bicycle.
Frank and his wife were in a band together and his first love is performing music. To satisfy his urges, he and Sam do jam together when she’s not studying. The audience gets treated to some of their work together.
Besides having strong, yet mixed, feelings about heading to UCLA for school, Sam is leaving her dad in his failing record store, and is falling in love with Rose (Sasha Lane) who is a local artist. Rose is her first love and is encouraging Sam to follow her passions.
Jamming one day, Frank and Sam tape a song Sam has written. Frank, without Sam’s permission, uploads the song onto Spotify under the band name of, “We’re Not A Band.” Somehow the song ends up on the Spotify Indie Play List.
Encouraged that Sam has real talent, Frank attempts to keep his daughter around by telling her she has a real talent and they could make a go of it in the music business.
Because the store is failing, he decides to tell his landlord Leslie (Toni Collette) that he’s vacating the space. His closest friend, local bar owner Dave (Ted Danson), tries to help Frank get over the hump of closing down the business.
The stories and sub-plots in this movie are: Frank's failing record store and inability to support Sam’s college tuition, Marianne’s failing health, Sam moving to California, Rose and Sam’s relationship, Frank’s feelings for Leslie, Dave’s love of trees, and most of all the music that Frank and Sam make together.
Offerman was OK as the father. For some reason it was difficult for me to really feel his angst towards his situation. This difficulty could have been partly due to the script and direction versus his ability. I did sense his character's love for music. Clemons was wonderful. I thought that she did a great job of showing her love for her father, leaving home for the first time, and falling in love. Danson was fun as the long time Brooklyn barkeep and Frank’s friend. Collette’s role was interesting because she was very cagy about her feelings for Frank, as a friend and landlord. Lane was fantastic as the struggling artist who fell in love with Sam. Danner was excellent as Frank’s mom who was slowly losing her ability to function in the world. Marc Basch and Brett Haley co-wrote this script that lacked some background story but created wonderful interactive dialogue. Haley also directed this effort and it was generally on target.
Overall: The songs brought forth joyful emotion and were definitely a bright spot in this film.