Pope Dreams (DVD Review)24 Aug, 2008 By: Dan Bennett
Stars Phillip Vaden, Stephen Tobolowsky, Julie Hagerty, Noel Fisher.
A coming-of-age story as interested in a little sass and rock 'n' roll as much as heart and soul, Pope Dreams, written and directed by Patrick Hogan, is an effective and genuinely moving dramedy likely to appeal to multiple age groups.
Newcomer Phillip Vaden stars as Andy, a 19-year-old, hard-rocking drummer whose soft-spoken personality is a contrast to the driving musical beat he provides. Perhaps Andy uses drumming as a way to escape from some of his real-life problems. His beloved mother, played by Julie Haggerty, is dying, and Andy is desperate to find a way to send his mother to the Vatican — her long-cherished dream — before she dies.
Andy also is dealing with pressure from his father, played by Stephen Tobolowsky, who wishes his son were a little more ambitious. Meanwhile, Andy finds a possible unexpected romance in the form of Brady (Marnette Patterson), a beautiful young woman who wasn't expecting to become involved with someone like Andy, but finds herself in an opposites-attract situation.
Throw in a discovery of Andy's music talents by Broadway producers, and Andy's life is filled quickly with surprises both good and bad.
Pope Dreams is smarter and livelier than most early-adult coming-of-age stories, with strong dialogue and a willingness and ability to travel from comedic to serious — not always easy. It's helped by a nice performance from Vaden, alternately beleaguered and bedazzled as the struggling but ever-hopeful Andy. Also, veteran character actors Haggerty and Tobolowsky provide weight and their usual solid skills.