A workaholic mom (Shawnee Smith) and her carefree mother-in-law (Pamela Reed) bond on a road trip filled with assorted misadventures. Also stars Shawn Christian and Claire Carey.
Directed by Randall Stevens.
Savannah Sunrise is a family-friendly comedy that mixes sentimentality with screwball antics. Cynics who prefer their comedy to be ironic and cutting-edge may want to brand it as corny, but those who do miss the point. Savannah Sunrise is a fun little throwback to those family-centric comedies that we used to see from studios like Disney. It has laughs and a lot of heart, which is far more than what the big studios pass along as “family entertainment” these days.
I’ve been a fan of Reed since Kindergarten Cop, as well as from two of my all-time favorite shows, “Jericho” (one of Reed’s co-stars from “Jericho,” Claire Carey, plays her daughter in this film) and “Parks and Recreation.” For Savannah Sunrise, Reed gets to show her natural comedic talent, as well as her dramatic side, and she has several affecting scenes. She is easily the best thing about this film.
Unfortunately, the script doesn’t really cover any new ground, and so, much of the comedy seems forced and contrived. Some of the comedic bits just don't land, and even the road trip itself gets detoured into pointless scenes that kill the pacing.
With the exception of a scene involving a stowaway baby alligator, there aren’t that many laugh-out-loud moments in the film. There is some humor and sweetness to be sure, but there is also a lot of unrealized potential. When a movie reminds you of other, better road trip films, that really isn’t a good thing. And you feel like Reed and Smith are confined inside a script that needed a few more laughs and a little more edge.
Still, Savannah Sunrise does what it sets out to do. It’s a fun little family comedy that gets you from point A to point B in under 90 minutes. And that is never a bad thing.
The standard definition video on the DVD has decent detail, but the colors seem a bit toned down. There just isn’t much “pop” in what appears to be an overall soft image. Or perhaps I’m just spoiled by HD and 4K resolution. The soundtrack is a crisp 5.1 stereo mix that isn’t particularly active, but the clarity is good and it gets the job done.
There aren’t a wealth of extras on the DVD, but we do get some promotional featurettes and a trailer.
*”Behind the Scenes” featurette. This brief look at the making of the film includes interviews with the cast members. Running time: 4:10
*“Cast Interviews” featurette. Shawnee Smith, Pamela Reed, Claire Carey, and Shawn Christian share their own road trip memories. Running time: 3:22
*Trailer. An original trailer for the film is included. Running time: 2:34
Savannah Sunrise is a pleasant family movie with a lot of heart and humor. It feels a lot like other road trip films, and the lack of original vision hurts it a bit. Both Shawnee Smith and Pamela Reed are excellent in the leads.
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Rating: Not rated
Running Time: 84 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: Stereo 5.1
Special Features: “Behind the Scenes” featurette; “Cast Interviews” featurette; Trailer.
Label: Insp Films/Anchor Bay