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The Good Hearts Club (2021) Film Review

★★


Directed by: #WilliamFReed

Written by: #WilliamFReed

Starring: #TylerMann


 

Escape Room Austin is home to a tight-knit group of eccentric gamers, whose business is in danger of being bought out by the Corporate Escape Room next door. Lone wolf Matt (Mann) begins his new job; will he be able to help the co-workers he soon begins to view as his family face up against adversity or will the team lose everything?


The Good Hearts Club (2021) is the debut feature of Mexican American filmmaker William F. Reed and this light-hearted comedy was made as a personal story for the director. Reed had previously worked at an escape room alongside individuals who are similar to the misfits presented in his movie, with the shooting location being at the same place he worked. Due to Covid-19, filming was delayed in March 2020, however Reed’s labour of love finally got going with the help of close friends and new talents. It was the director’s aim to tell a sweet story about how if you do your best and keep a kind heart as you do so, you just might find out there is good in the world after all.

The Good Hearts Club (2021) film poster

For his debut comedy feature length film, Reed makes a strong impression with his snappy direction and well timed jokes. The opening sequences do a great job at introducing us to our protagonist, awkward but well-meaning Matt and a diverse cast of quirky individuals. The craziness of their fast-paced working environment to entertain their guests leads to some hilarious moments where Matt is immediately thrown into the group dynamics head first and has to try and keep up with their common working practices.


Despite some low budget identifiers with filming largely restricted to the centre shooting location of the escape room (excluding a few exterior drone shots of the city and a couple scenes taking place at a park or local diner), the witty and heart-warming narrative alongside Reed’s visionary direction balance things out well. There are also several well edited montages of the group working together to create a new room and improve their chances of attracting montages, which are sound tracked wonderfully with motivational indie tracks.


The film does begin to exhibit good character work, although it does struggle with its large cast of characters where many fall to the wayside in regard to development. Aside from Matt, the owner of the business, Terry (Matt Arbo) is given the most attention alongside some appearances from his ex-wife, Karen (Jane Schwatz), who works next door and the tension between them is finally resolved in a touching payoff by the end. Other characters are introduced early on in a quick succinct fashion and end up bleeding into each other as simply being those ‘one of’ those geeky misfits.


The nature of the uplifting plot does unfortunately veer into cheese level territory where moments which are designed to be emotionally investing are not earned, due to a lack of meaningful character interactions and natural growth. One example is when Matt gives an inspirational speech to his friends and reveals how he loves them as his new family and the camera pans over close-ups of all the cast reacting to this declaration, which feels forced and unjustified. The movie does suffer as a result, but there are genuinely endearing moments to be found which will bring a smile to your face and fulfils Reed’s admirable goal to bring a positive, uplifting film to audiences.


Overall, The Good Hearts Club does feature entertaining performances and quirky direction with some endearing comedy, but its reliance on sentimentality with little character work makes for a rather forgettable, albeit well intentioned, piece.

 

The Good Hearts Club (2021) trailer:


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