A PLUMM SUMMER ** Chris J. Kelly, Owen Pearce, Henry Winkler; rated PG (slurs, profanity, violence, vulgarity)
"A Plumm Summer" has a pretty uninspired and nondescript title. It also features one of the worst musical scores in recent memory.
The film's supposedly "original" compositions stridently declare there are scenes in the movie that are either "wacky" or "dramatic" well, at least more wacky or more dramatic than they really need to be.
And the inclusion of a few ill-chosen period songs makes the low-budget, independently made family film feel hokier than it normally would.
The shame here is, it's not a terrible movie. It's just pretty amateurish in terms of the direction and some of the performances. In fact, the film might have been able to find an audience if the studio wasn't set on releasing it during the initial rush of big summer movies.
Set in late-'60s Montana, the film follows the members of a family named Plumm. Teenager Elliott (Chris J. Kelly) is a would-be photographer and has his hands full taking care of his younger brother, Rocky (Owen Pearce).
Elliott is also an amateur sleuth, which comes in handy when Froggy Doo, the marionette sidekick of beloved television personality Happy Herb (Henry Winkler), disappears during a public appearance and performance event.
The Plumm brothers decide to investigate the puppet-napping with help from a new neighbor, Haley Dubois (Morgan Flynn). She's the daughter of a local police officer.
There's plenty of material here as it is, but co-screenwriter/director Caroline Zelder tries to explore the dysfunctional Plumm family dynamic, as seen by the squabbles between Plumm matriarch Roxie (Lisa Guerrero) and her alcoholic husband, Mick (William Baldwin).
Those scenes are played far too seriously for their own good and don't fit with the rest of the film's generally lighthearted moments.
However, the somewhat overstuffed film features some charming narration from Jeff Daniels as the grown-up Elliott.