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Lean on Pete Review

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Life hurts. Facile films use this truth to extract drama. The worst of them exploit the characters, and in turn, the audience, for effect. One comes out of the theater feeling used and with a bitter taste in your mouth.

Writer/Director Andrew Haigh’s coming of age drama, Lean on Pete, is not one of those films.

Though flawed at times by pacing and supporting character issues, it is held together, even elevated, by a inspired and understated performance by Charlie Plummer. The success and the humanity of the film rests on his thin shoulders and he carries it like a young DiCaprio.

The film’s structural and character strengths are built on contrasts. Charley Thompson (Plummer) is a 16 year old kid, new to a working class neighborhood of Portland, having to make a new start because of his father’s unsteady employment record, immaturity, and risky lifestyle choices.

The first thing we see is Charley unpacking his few things, placing his football trophies on the windowsill. A wide receiver, he has a rangy and wiry build, suited more for long distance running, which is his other activity, than for the pounding violence of the gridiron. He says he’s waiting until he stops growing to muscle up. And there you have a powerful metaphor for this film: Charley is a vulnerable kid, waiting to be grown up, waiting to toughen up. Life and the filmmakers, however, have more immediate plans. There will be no waiting. Charley’s strength building will not happen in a gym but on the road.

And like all good road movies and novels, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn being a major model of this film, Charley needs a partner. That partner is Lean on Pete, a quarter horse on his last legs. Charley lives down the road from a third or fourth tier racetrack. This is not Churchill Downs. These are not thoroughbreds. Leave behind the glamour of Derby Day, the dapper trainers in suits, all the hats, even the long lap around the track, with all the jockey’s calibrations of speed and tactics. Quarter horses sprint. They run as fast as they can, and if they don’t run fast enough, unscrupulous trainers and jockeys will find ways to goad them on.

But to Charley, this is a glamours and intriguing world. He begins working for a trainer, Del (Steve Busemi putting in another nuanced and rock solid performance) and falls for his second string horse, Lean On Pete. Charley doesn’t know anything about horses or racing, but Del, despite his hard-boiled exterior, takes to the kid and appreciates his work ethic. He hires him as a stable boy, but warns him, as does Del’s jockey, Bonnie (Chloe Sevigny), “Don’t fall in love with the horses.” One can imagine Del and Bonnie, in their younger and sunnier days, falling in love with a horse or two, but those salad days are long gone. These are two characters at the declining ends of their careers. Beaten up and wounded by life, but still in game, though much compromised and wearing thin.

Is that Charley’s fate, too? Is it the responsibility of the adults in a child’s life to toughen them up, shatter their infantile illusions and prepare them for the pain, some of it to arise from bad luck but most of it self-inflicted?

Does a 16 year old see his life on such terms or is hope in the open road before him? A third of way into the film, Charley makes up his mind and takes to the road with Pete.

It’s in this section, that the sweetness of his character, the tenderness and vulnerability of Charley, is most clearly revealed. And it contains the best moments in the movie, and the best moments for Plummer. His monologues with Pete, as they move across the eastern Oregon and Wyoming plains anchor and sustain the film, give the film a reason for being.

But there are adventures ahead, new strangers, threatening and deadly situations, learning experiences, toughening up.

It’s in this parade of encounters that the film’s focus weakens. In committing to be life-like, the film must choose between developing supporting characters or letting them be tools in Charley’s progression. Sometimes they pay off, Charley’s aunt for instance, and sometimes, like with the two partying vets, the berated girl, and Steve Zahn’s street person, they are more symbols that souls, dark possible paths that Charley may find himself traveling if he’s not careful and lucky.

For like horse racing, to the bystander and gambler, it seems to be about luck and fortune; while for the trainer, the jockey, and the horse, it’s about hard work, grit, and, if fortunate, grace. Lean on Pete has plenty of all those, mostly in Charlie Plummer and the character he brings to aching and hopeful life.

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The HISTORY Channel’s “The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch” To Make Panel Debut at San Diego Comic-Con

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“The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch,” a hit nonfiction series on the HISTORY Channel, is making its debut at San Diego Comic-Con with an exclusive panel. The panel will feature aerospace engineer, astrophysicist, and lead scientist Dr. Travis Taylor; Defense Intelligence Senior Executive (Retired) Jay Stratton; and others. The series follows current ranch owner Brandon Fugal and an accredited team of scientists, researchers, and experts as they conduct carefully curated scientific experiments, daring drilling and drone exercises, and more to uncover what’s taking place on the anomalous 512-acre hotspot of high strangeness and UAP-related activity. New episodes currently air on Tuesdays at 9/8c, with the two-hour season five finale airing on Tuesday, July 23 at 9/8c.

HISTORY’s “THE SECRET OF SKINWALKER RANCH” PANEL – Thursday, July 25 from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. – Hilton San Diego Bayfront (Indigo Ballroom)

Can You Keep A Secret? Unveiling the Secrets of Skinwalker Ranch – Ever seen a UAP? Or witnessed something strange and unusual that you couldn’t explain? Join the experts from The HISTORY® Channel’s hit series The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch, including astrophysicist and lead scientist Dr. Travis Taylor and others, for a dynamic panel discussing the motivations, inclinations and secret findings currently taking place at one of the most infamous UAP and paranormal hotspots to ever exist. The moderator will be Matt Zoller Seitz (New York Magazine/Vulture). Cast subject to change.

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ADULT SWIM TO HOST FOUR-DAY “PIRATE PARRRTY” AT SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON 2024 ALONGSIDE EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PEEKS, SERIES PANELS AND LAUNCH OF THE “RICK AND MORTY: THE ANIME” ANIME-RICAN TOUR

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Adult Swim, the global leader in adult animation, unveiled plans today for San Diego Comic-Con which includes an ongoing Pirate-themed fan “parrrty” featuring a series of special evening events, exclusive panels diving into key Adult Swim programs, and the kick-off of a cross-country mobile tour to celebrate “Rick and Morty: The Anime.”

“For reasons too long to get into, we at Adult Swim have always used a pirate ship (and, owls, but maybe we’ll do that at a later con) as a metaphor for how we operate,” said Michael Ouweleen, president, Adult Swim. “We thought since we like to think of us, fans and network, as all one thing, that we should bring the pirate ship to the harbor of San Diego this year and let everyone join us on the – erm – poop deck.”

ADULT SWIM PIRATE PARRRTY

Adult Swim will crash onto the shores of San Diego with a shipwreck adventure on the network’s Adult Swim on the Green space outside the San Diego Convention Center (5th Avenue Landing and Convention Way). The “Adult Swim Pirate Parrrty” will include custom games, exclusive first looks, giveaways, and evening entertainment including DJ laser sets – no badge required!

The space will also host a series of special evening events including:

  • AEW x Adult Swim “Battle for the Booty” Wrestling Tournament – Join a collection of AEW wrestlers who will face off in a tag team tournament against famous Adult Swim faces for a no-holds-barred event as each competitor vies for the chance to win the “Battle for the Booty” title. Thursday (7/25) at 7:30pm
  • Adult Swim’s Night of New – Comic-Con attendees will be the first to experience a collection of brand-new Adult Swim series at this special screening event featuring the full-length premiere episodes of “Common Side Effects,” “Rick and Morty: The Anime,” “Invincible Fight Girl,” and “Women Wearing Shoulder Pads” alongside more never-before-seen Adult Swim content.  The screening will also be livestreamed in real-time on Adult Swim’s YouTube Channel. Don’t miss your chance! Friday (7/26) at 7:30pm
  • Fun with Zach and Michael – Fresh off the finale of the hit series’ second season, join “SMILING FRIENDS” co-creators Michael Cusack and Zach Hadel for a special live-draw and fan Q&A event. Saturday (7/27) at 7:30pm

The first 1,000 attendees to join the “Adult Swim Pirate Parrrty” at 1pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday will receive an exclusive giveaway! For more details on the “Adult Swim Pirate Parrrty” visit here.

RICKMOBILE TOUR KICK-OFF

This summer marks the return of the famed Rickmobile and Mortymobile for Adult Swim’s “Anime-rican” tour in support of the new series “Rick and Morty: The Anime,” and San Diego Comic-Con is its first stop! Fans attending the “Adult Swim Pirate Parrrty” will have a chance for a photo-op with the Mortymobile, while the Rickmobile will roam San Diego’s Gaslamp District with special giveaways. After Comic-Con, both the Rickmobile and the Mortymobile will cross the country for a nine-city tour that will conclude in Adult Swim’s hometown of Atlanta.

PANEL EVENTS

The fun continues inside with a series of can’t-miss panels featuring advanced looks, breaking news and insightful discussion from series creators and voice talent:

  • Adult Swim’s “Common Side Effects” Series First Look – Come experience the side effects of an incredible panel discussion about Adult Swim’s highly anticipated new series.  “Common Side Effects.”  From executive producers Mike Judge and Greg Daniels, and creators Joe Bennett and Steve Hely, this comedic thriller follows two former high school lab partners who take on big pharma and government agencies as they try to bring a medicine that cures everything to the whole world. Co-creator Steve Hely and writer/director Sean Buckelew will join the series voice cast including Martha KellyEmily PendergastJoseph Lee Anderson and Dave King to discuss the new series. Friday (7/26) at 11am, Indigo Ballroom
  • Adult Swim’s “Rick And Morty: The Anime” Series First Look – Go further into the multiverse of Rick and Morty with the new series “Rick and Morty: The Anime” as it lands at San Diego Comic-Con.  Writer/director Takashi Sano, producers Joseph Chou and Takenari Maeda, and Adult Swim’s head of action and anime Jason DeMarco will share details about the intergalactic adventure and show you the inner workings of the new series on Adult Swim. Friday (7/26) at 12pm, Indigo Ballroom
  • “My Adventures with Superman” Screening Presentation and Panel – Join executive producers Jake WyattJosie CampbellBrendan Clogher, and voice cast members Jack QuaidAlice LeeIshmel Sahid, and Kiana Madeira as they answer your burning questions from season two. Plus get the early scoop on all the action, comedy, and romance that awaits Clark, Lois, and Jimmy in season three. Airing on Adult Swim, “My Adventures with Superman” is produced by Warner Bros. Animation. Saturday (7/27) at 10am, Indigo Ballroom 
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BMI AND WHITE BEAR PR PRESENT“THE CHARACTER OF MUSIC: THE ART OF SCORING FOR ANIMATION” AT COMIC-CON 2024

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BMI® and White Bear PR are excited to present “The Character of Music: The Art of Scoring for Animation,” at Comic-Con 2024. The panelists include BMI composers Sherri Chung, Deana Kiner, Kevin Kiner, Sean Kiner, Joy Ngiaw, along with composers The Newton Brothers and songwriter Alex Seaver. The panel will be moderated by White Bear PR’s Chandler Poling and introduced by BMI’s Director, Film, TV & Visual Media, Louie Stephens.

Step into the mesmerizing world where sound meets artistry at this year’s “The Character of Music: The Art of Scoring for Animation” panel. Discover how composers work hand in hand with animators and directors to weave a seamless tapestry of sound and imagery. The panelists include Deana, Kevin and Sean Kiner (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, Star Wars: Rebels), Sherri Chung (Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, Based On A True Story), Joy Ngiaw (Blush, Barbie Mysteries), The Newton Brothers (X-MEN ’97), and songwriter Alex Seaver aka MAKO (Arcane: League of Legends). 

WHERE: 
San Diego Convention Center Room 6BCF
111 W. Harbor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101 

WHEN: 
Sunday, July 28, 2024 

TIME:

2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. PST

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