Humble Pie DVD Review

93

Emotional eating meets minimum wage blues, in Chris Bowman’s Humble Pie. Produced by Napoleon Dynamite’s Jeremy Coon and written and starring Hubbel Palmer as drawn from intimate, humiliating chapters in his own life, Humble Pie miraculously pulls off being outrageously hilarious while always remaining respectful of its persecuted portly protagonist, as it burrows into the heart and soul of small town dreams and big appetites.

Hubbel Palmer is Tracy in Humble Pie, a low self-esteem, plus size woefully gullible Utah supermarket clerk disdained by his disgruntled single mother, conned by the local bratty teens, and humored by his boss who doles out meaningless, impressively sounding managerial job titles to bottom rung drudges. Clinging to a shaky sense of pride while routinely disrespected by just about everyone around him as he concurrently fails drivers license tests for years, Tracy pours his soul into poetry he writes on the sly, and signs up for acting classes conducted by a suspect new stranger in town, played with crafty elegance by William Baldwin.

Bombarded by nearly as many insults and ripoffs as the overload of emotionally compensating calories that he consumes in a day, Tracy longs to be respected in his life for something special. And wouldn’t mind the abuse directed at him so much if it were at least creatively fulfilling, such as a job acting as a savage man-blob in a movie. Which apparently may not be so far fetched a dream after all.

Switching up titles from the original American Fork, Humble Pie is laced with generous heapings of heartfelt humor. And a perpetually dejected main character who survives the relentless stings of derision, without ever quite losing a crumbling sense of dignity and humanity. And the sheer satisfying pleasure of this screen portrait can be credited to Palmer, son of a window washer and toiling at a lifetime menial jobs himself. And who draws with unflinching candor from his own experiences for this story.

Which once again points out how that degrading cinematic legacy of minstrel shows and whites insultingly playing other races on screen, are part of a thankfully long forgotten past. But that workingclass people are still rarely hired to play themselves on screen. And which is why independent films inevitably outshine the big bucks Hollywood productions at awards time every year, because audiences just relate more to the masses getting to play themselves, rather than millionaire actors impersonating the poor in movies.

Monterey Media

Rated PG-13

4 stars

DVD Features: Deleted Scenes: Common Problem For A Husky Fella; The Girl Part; I Wanna Heal People; Laverne And The Audition; Nucleus Of Hope; Featurettes: How To Make Humble Pie; Curtain Call; Script To Screen.

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network's Arts Express.