'Hello, My Name is Frank' Review and Interview with Dale Peterson & Garrett Brown: "I'm Such a Normal Guy"
Films that take on the subject of those with mental handicaps in a respectful yet humorous tone are few and far between. Most films fall into the category of Forest Gump that, at least for me, air on the side of melodramatic and pandering. Hello, My Name is Frank ,however, is the perfect balance of humor and respectful musings on what it means to be mentally handicapped and how families cope with it.
The film follows Frank Brown, played with aplomb by Garrett M. Brown, as he copes with the loss of his wife/caregiver, along with his daughter Laura, played by Rachel DiPillo, leaving for college. Frank has both verbal and physical Tourette's syndrome, which causes him to lash out verbally and exhibit physical ticks. His daughter tries, in vain, to find him a new caregiver so that she can take a road-trip with her two friends, played by Hayley Kiyoko and Mary Kate Wiles, to the grave-site of their friend who passed away. Unable to find a new caregiver, Laura takes Frank on her road-trip with her friends, where they begin to bond and grow together as a family through a series of adventures.
The performances are what drive the film with a particular focus on Garrett M. Brown's Frank. Brown had most recently been seen as Kick-Ass's dad in Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2. He deftly brings Frank to life, in a way that is not over the top and remains respectful to the Tourette's community. Brown studied multiple videos, met with those afflicted with the disease, and it shows on-screen. He is sympathetic and insightful when he needs to be. He is the only character in the film with an actual mental affliction, yet sometimes he is the most level-headed character. His Tourette's ticks involve involuntary slapping, derogatory outbursts, and his face spasming. The character tick that is most telling about Frank is that he keeps a plastic key-ring in his mouth at all times to keep his other ticks. He tries to keep his Tourette's in line so that he can be viewed as a functioning part of society by being able to take care of himself without a caretaker.
Dale Peterson wrote and directed the film, and for it being his first major motion picture, he does a fantastic job. The interactions between the characters feels genuine and real, as opposed to being forced. Even the smallest parts in the film are well-written, particularly James DuMont's turn as a protective father in a park who punches Frank after a misunderstanding. The dialogue is also strong, which helps with each of the main characters being given a chance to have a fully realized story-arc. When I spoke with Peterson, he made it clear that this was just the beginning of his directing career, after spending years in Hollywood doing a variety of jobs.
There aren't many films that treat those with mental afflictions with respect while also painting them as strong, introspective members of society. Unfortunately, Hello, My Name is Frank does not have a release date, but it is however making the rounds at festivals across the country. If you get a chance to see Hello, My Name is Frank, make sure you do. It's funny, moving, and showcases the talents of both Brown and Peterson along with having a phenomenal supporting cast.
Final Say: Watch It