When two down-and-out men decide to follow their dreams to reopen a bowling alley in a downtrodden town, comedy and heartwarming twists ensue.
Once set to open at Movies at Midway, “Phoenix, Oregon,” a new film by writer and director Gary Lundgren, will now be available for at-home viewing. The film looks to capture the essence of small town life in a comedy set against the background of a looming midlife crisis.
The film follows Bobby, played by James Le Gros, who appeared in “The Passage,” “Fear the Walking Dead” and “Blue Bloods,” and his best friend, Carlos, played by Jesse Borrego, who appeared in “Fame” and “Dexter” among others, as the two struggle to find the spark behind their buried dreams.
Bobby, a pessimistic comic book artist stuck bartending at a failing establishment, is persuaded to revitalize the town’s forgotten bowling alley by Carlos, a chef. Once a local legend for his bowling skills, Bobby must uncover what is holding him back and what he needs to feel satisfied.
“It’s a film about fulfillment, really,” Lundgren said in an interview March 9. “Bobby is a guy that isn’t happy, like a lot of us. He’s going through a life crisis. There’s a time where it either gets worse and you get bitter and blame others, you blame the aliens and outside forces – or you look in the mirror and realize what you need to make you happy.”
While both characters have had their streaks of kicks to the stomach, Carlos remains optimistic that despite rapidly closing in on his 60th birthday, his dream of becoming a chef is right around the corner.
“It’s like two sides of the same immature coin,” Borrego said in the March 9 interview. “None of Bobby’s problems, in isolation, should really lead you to doom and gloom depression. It’s a nod to who we are as people and how important our mental health is... The two deal with their problems in different ways. Bobby makes art that doesn’t manifest in the outside world, and Carlos sees a way to heal the world in manifestable food.”
Borrego said the difference between the two also boils down to a connection to family, which Borrego experienced through his Latin heritage. Carlos tends to have a more positive outlook, reinforced by his support network, he said.
“The story really takes a nod to cultures that exemplify family as an important trait in life,” Borrego said. “We were showing how beautiful the Latino culture is with how they back up Carlos and accept Bobby.”
“Phoenix, Oregon” also illustrates the significant impact that minuscule things can bring.
Bowling recalls a simpler time, Lundgren said about choosing the overarching premise. “There’s something about this struggling sport that fits the story. Bobby says it’s a useless talent, but people also have dreams for something that can seem unimportant. If something seemingly insignificant brings you fulfillment, then it is important after all.”
Though a seemingly low-stakes plot in a tiny town, “Phoenix, Oregon” attempts to convey a message about finding happiness.
“If we look at what happens around us, even the failures, we’ll see that those are successes. Every step we make is a success in some way,” Borrego said.
With closings due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the opening of “Phoenix, Oregon” looks to do something unprecedented. Starting Friday, March 20, the film will be available for viewing at home through the movie’s website. To access this, viewers must purchase a ticket through Midway’s website at moviesatmidway.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The email will then send you an immediate link to watch the film on any device and will provide a permanent copy of the film once it is set for digital release later this summer.
“While larger national theater chains can withstand the hit, independent mom-and-pop theaters could be devastated,” said “Phoenix, Oregon” film booker Ryan Bruce Levey of Levey Distribution and PR. “These theaters took a chance on us, and now we’re standing by them.”