Bart Got a Room
Photos and Video
"What other evening in your whole life is as big? Maybe your wedding. But odds are that will end in divorce anyway," says Danny's sage-like friend, Craig, as the two nerdy pals lounge poolside in the Florida retirement community they call home. The night in question? Prom, of course, and high school senior/band member/student council vice president Danny Stein wants what any reasonable young man wants on prom night-to get a little lovin' from a cute girl. He's got the hotel, limo, and tux lined up. He has his recently divorced, slightly dysfunctional but supportive parents (William H. Macy and Cheryl Hines) rooting for him. He's only missing one thing-the girl. This side-splitter follows Danny as he hustles his way through the three weeks leading up to the night that will mark him for life. Director and writer Brian Hecker takes us back in time to a quirky world full of plastic flamingos, golf carts, and teen anxiety. Filmed in his hometown of Hollywood, Florida, Hecker's feature debut looks and feels totally original: Beaming pastels and sets that scream nostalgic Florida flashiness all swing to the tunes of Benny Goodman's big band. Phenomenal comedic acting by Macy, the overly honest father who drags his son along as he cruises the singles scene, and Danny's reoccurring exaggerated fantasies of possible dates make this the wittiest prom angst movie in ages.
Director's Statement Collapse
Bart Got a Room is inspired by my pathetic existence as a nerd growing up in the most un-hip environment in the world: Hallandale Beach, Florida. It's bad enough that I couldn't find a prom date, it's worse that I had to be tagged along on the dates of my divorced parents as they, too, desperately searched for love. I was very fortunate to get such great actors as William H. Macy and Cheryl Hines to portray my parents. Hines' energy is astoundingly similar to my mother's, and right after Macy had dinner with my dad and I, the night before we started shooting, he leaned over and whispered to me, "I get it."
Bart is ultimately about the absurd attachments people have to societal ideals while falling prey to an illusion of permanency. In the end, we see that none of the neurotic obsessions the family in Bart dwell on matter at all. The characters here in this canal-ridden, egret-infested expanse of Hallandale Beach obsess on what others are doing in relation to themselves, their age, their material possessions, or their dating status. Danny (the film's nerdy 18-year-old protagonist) and his parents are completely attached to these comparisons, and Bart being mostly an invisible entity throughout the movie is a calculated tactic to highlight the ridiculousness of their neuroses. Their unnecessary suffering is accentuated by the notion that Bart (an allegedly much bigger dweeb than Danny) not only secured a date for the prom but got a hotel room after as well.
To accentuate these themes, the South Florida retirement community that surrounds Danny is displayed throughout the film. The characters' attachment to a sense of security is juxtaposed with images of old people everywhere. Their existential crises are accompanied by this stink of death at every turn. By the end of the movie, Danny and his family embrace their aliveness, let go of their clutch on any legacy, and revel in what's available to them right now.
Film Information Collapse
Cast & Credits Collapse
Principal Cast William H. Macy, Cheryl Hines, Steven J. Kaplan, Alia Shawkat
Screenwriter Brian Hecker
Executive Producers Stephen Benedek, Mario Fallone, Ed Hart, Bruce Lunsford, Michael LaFetra, Randy Simon, Dina Burke
Producers Galt Niederhoffer, Jai Stefan, Tony Shawkat, Reagan Silber
Director of Photography Hallvard Braein
About the Director(s)Collapse
Brian Hecker endured great stress as a teenager in Hallandale Beach, Florida before he wrote, directed, and performed all characters in his short film Growing Up with Stress, which won Best of Show at the International Student Media Festival. Brian received his bachelor's degree from Northwestern University and started the theatrical agency NU Talent. He received an MFA in directing from the American Film Institute and was named director of the year after finishing his first year. His thesis film Family Attraction, starring Chris Penn and Martin Sheen, earned more than 15 national and international awards and was chosen by AFI as one of 10 shorts to premiere on iTunes. Brian has developed projects for Miramax, MGM, and Universal.