Searching for Wooden Watermelons tells the story of an overeducated Texas girl (she uses school to postpone reality), who really wants to write sitcoms in L.A., but cannot bring herself to leave her mother, her grandmother, and her roots. But Jude has run out of schools, and since she hasn’t left town yet her boyfriend and her relatives expect her to settle down and raise a family like everyone else.
The movie features good performances all around — except for one or two minor characters, and except for one or two scenes. Wendy English brings to life the character of Jude, who loves her family even as she makes fun of their shortcomings in voiceover. Riley (played by a charismatic Chad Safar) is her hip friend who encourages her to follow her dreams.
When the dialogue is light and full of banter, it is excellent. The actors seem to sparkle with the opportunity to be funny. Jude has a dry, ironic wit; her mother is flaky; and her grandmother is set in her ways, and with good, sharp dialogue, they made my audience laugh.
But there are also some arguments in the movie, and they are neither written nor acted as well as the light-hearted scenes. The actors only seem to have one tone of voice during the arguments, and there aren’t any transitions from conversation to fight. Maybe I haven’t quite put my finger on it, but something odd about the scenes of conflict rings false.
A final complaint is that the script, while careful to incorporate metaphors and meaning, becomes heavyhanded at the end. It beats the audience over its collective head with the message “follow your dreams!”
Still, the script shows great promise, and English will make a fine director, actress, or comedienne, depending on which dream she chooses to follow.