Film Review: Emerson Heights (dir by Jennifer Hook)

Earlier tonight, on Prime, I watched a new film called Emerson Heights.  (Well, newish.  It came out in January.)

Emerson Heights tells the story of two people.

Cody McClain (played by Austin James, who also wrote the script and produced) is an aspiring actor who has recently moved out to Los Angeles with his mother and his little sister.  He’s handsome and he’s charming but he’s also dorky enough that he can’t put together a last minute pool party.  He’s only played a few small roles and is perhaps best known for appearing in a series of pretzel commercials.  At least he’s not having to work at Starbucks.

Briley (Gatlin Green) is an aspiring singer.  She does a killer version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow and she aspires to someday perform on Broadway.


No, actually, they don’t.  Instead, they just meet one day and fall in love.  Unfortunately, Cody lives in Los Angeles while Briley lives in New York City but they’re determined to make it work.  They promise to write to each other often and, whenever Briley can make it out to California, she and Cody spend every moment together.  Briley fears that a long distance relationship won’t be able to survive but Cody promises her that it well.

However, can their relationship survive Cody suddenly becoming famous?  When Cody starts getting bigger roles and more fans, it all starts to go to his head.  While he’s shooting a spy film and hanging out with his seductive co-star, Haley Ryan (Amanda Grace Benitez), Briley is starring in a Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz and trying to figure out how to hold onto her job despite the fact that she’s just found out that she’s pregnant….

Emerson Heights is a pretty simple film.  From the minute that we meet Haley and Cody’s smarmy agent (Matt Singletary), we know that they’re both going to try to lead Cody astray.  We know that Cody’s going to struggle with temptation, just as surely as we know that Briley is going to be pressured to terminate her pregnancy.  It may occasionally be predictable but predictability is actually a strength when it comes to a film like this.  Emerson Heights is an unabashedly sentimental love story, a story about two people who belong together but who have to overcome 90-minutes worth of obstacles to reach each other.  When you’re having to deal with news of riots, pandemics, and threats of war on a daily basis, the predictable but likable romance featured in a movie like Emerson Heights is actually rather comforting.

And make no mistake about it, this is a very likable film.  Austin James and Gatlin Green are two appealing performers and they have a wonderful chemistry together.  (It didn’t surprise me to discover that they’re married in real life.)  They make for a sweet couple and they just seem as if they belong together.  I also liked the enjoyably snarky performance of Amanda Grace Benitez as Briley’s potential rival for Cody’s affection.  As played by Benitez, Haley seems to be having such a ball being bad that it’s fun to watch.  If you’re going to be a villain in a film like this, you might as well enjoy yourself!

Anyway, Emerson Heights is on Prime.  I enjoyed it.

One response to “Film Review: Emerson Heights (dir by Jennifer Hook)

  1. Pingback: Lisa’s Week In Review: 7/6/20 — 7/12/20 | Through the Shattered Lens

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