The Great Amber Appleton
From the very first minute All Together Now begins with a rousing “clapping song,” led by an enthusiastic teenager, to the end credits featuring her lovely voice singing a key song from the film, my husband and I fell in love with this delightful character played by Auli”l Cravalho (Moana). In fact, Amber Appleton emerges as our favorite movie character so far in 2020.
Although Amber and her mother (the superb Justina Machado) are homeless and sleep in an old bus, Amber remains positive. She tries to make the best of their situation while involved in a number of activities such as helping at a senior facility, working at a donut shop, taking care of her ailing little dog Bobby, assisting her friends, and being in charge of the school’s Variety Show which raises money for a charity each year. Her energy seems unlimited.
A feathery thing known as hope
has helped many learn how to cope.
Amber had hope for everything
until great sadness life did bring.
A darling teen, she made folks glad
even the elders who were sad.
Her singing earned an audition,
one great goal of her ambition
And Amber’s friends? Her help they crave,
They want her back but not depraved.
Will Amber hope again and thrive?
We can’t help hoping she’ll survive.
A beautiful film -- joyous too,
“All Together Now” is good for you!
The big issue with Amber relates to whether or not she will accept needed help from her friends and from the other people whose lives she’s made better. Only then will she be able to audition for a spot at Carnegie Mellon.
All cast members deliver excellent performances, but two stand out to me. They are Rhenzi Feliz (Runaways) as Amber’s concerned boyfriend and Carol Burnett as an amusing bit crusty elderly lady who takes a shine to Amber. However, how I wish Fred Armisen had more camera time!. He plays the helpful drama coach and was the reason I wanted to see this Netflix offering.
Brett Haley (The Hero) directed and co-wrote the screenplay with Matthew Quick (Silver Linings Playbook) and Marc Basch (Hearts Beat Loud ). The film is based on Quick’s book “Sorta Like a Rock Star.” Although a real tearjerker, All Together Now ends up being one of the best feel-good films released this year.
And because I‘ve participated in too many variety shows to mention, I want to thank everyone involved for presenting a fun Variety Show as one of the film’s entertaining treats.
When the movie ended, my husband said, “I want to see a sequel!”
I agree. One movie about the great Amber Appleton is not enough.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all –
by Emily Dickinson
(Released by Netflix and rated “PG” by MPAA.)