Mighty Oak movie review & film summary (2020)

This movie is, simply put, mighty weird, starting with the stuff you have to simply accept: that this band would want to reunite with a 10-year-old’s prepubescent voice taking the place of its own lead singer, or that other adults in general would get excited about this grieving version of Kidz Bop. And you simply have to accept this quaint idea of reincarnation, even if the movie is too clumsy to make even a decent argument about it. This premise would excel far better, and go much deeper with its targeted themes, in something like a dark comedy; that “Mighty Oak” embraces this delusion with no sarcasm and a lot of wish fulfillment is at the very least worrisome.

These types of family movies always express their idealism with wholesomeness and dramatic shorthands, and often end with makeshift families coming together, talking animals making friends, or even brothers bonding through being ninjas (as with an earlier Sean McNamara joint, “3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain”). So it’s all the more bizarre that this idealistic, wholesome tale is geared toward getting the audience to feel Gina’s unhealthy obsession with both her dead brother and this 10-year-old. “Mighty Oak” does take some steps to show that she might be a bit lost about everything, cluing us into her past history at a mental hospital and even a vending machine metaphor about a broken internal light, but being that these types of films are about actualizing the impossible (again, “3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain”), inappropriate fixations of reincarnation are a wild sell. McNamara had an easier time with his earlier film “Soul Surfer,” that true story about a young woman who loses an arm to a shark attack, and grows closer to God. 

Oak, on the other hand, is practically an angel in the eyes of Gina, and the movie fits him in there to be like a golden child with little interior life of his own. Tommy Ragen is the real deal when it comes to really playing guitar riffs and really writing the original songs performed in the movie; when he says that he stayed up all night learning Army of Love’s songs, you can believe him. But the film edits him with start-and-stop line delivery, and makes him seem all the more like everyone’s projection of an almost inhuman innocence. 

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