by Elaine Hegwood Bowen
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Citizen Duane, available now on DVD from MTI Home Video, stars Vivica A. Fox, Devon Bostick, Donal Logue and Douglas Smith in a homespun comedy about a young man, whose life isn’t that exciting but suddenly he finds himself running for mayor of his small town.
Duane Balfour is a teen-aged Don Quixote born into a family that’s not very noticeable or remarkable, for that matter. And he’s further lost his edge along the way, while being upstaged by high school bullies. Duane’s claim to fame is that his father predicted a doomsday scenario and, unfortunately, was killed for his activist viewpoints going too far over the edge.Balfour plays Douglas Smith and Fox plays high school teacher Miss Houston. Balfour isn’t very lucky in love, and his mom’s ex-boyfriend just happens to be a newscaster who keeps showing up on her doorstep trying to videotape one news segment after another.
If Balfour is to succeed in his run for mayor, he must overcome the powerful, older incumbent, his own inadequacies, public perception and history itself. Miss Houston tries to encourage Balfour in school, and he’s off to producing one video after another as class assignments. One day he decides to confront his nemesis with a homemade bicycle that resembles a science project, only to find himself face down on in the middle of the street after things go awry.
As he runs for mayor, he’s reminded of the sad circumstances surrounding his father’s death, and this only serves to put Balfour into a deep stupor, from which he can’t return. Finally, in a way that suggests his father may have been encouraging him, a minor earthquake hits the town, just as Balfour’s father had predicted. The incumbent mayor dies suddenly, and the race for mayor is determined by elimination.
Citizen Duane reminded me a lot of the 1971 movie with Dick Van Dyke called Cold Turkey, when an entire sleepy town tries to kick their smoking habits. Everybody joined together for one good cause, but through the midst of it all, townspeoples’ shortcomings and secrets were vividly displayed for all to see. In Citizen Duane, even though Balfour thinks that he doesn’t have a chance at success, in the end, he triumphs and realizes he needs to slow down and enjoy all that his young life has to offfer. He goes from “zero to hero!”
Citizen Duane was directed by Michael Mabbott (The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico), written by Robert DeLeskie (The Runner), with the story and screenplay by Jonathan Sobol (Everything Is Connected). The film was produced by Carolynne Bell (Deeply) and Susan Cavan (Superstar, Stealing Harvard).
Citizen Duane is on DVD now from Miami, Florida-based MTI Home Video, which for more than 25 years has been a full-service independent motion picture studio. For more information, please visit www.mtivideo.com.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.
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