‘Hopelessly in June’ Sends a Touch of Motherly Love14 Mar, 2012 By: Ashley Ratcliff
She may be overbearing, opinionated and a tinge judgmental, but in spite of her personality flaws, she offers an unmatched love. Actress Ella Joyce embodies these motherly nuances in her character, Mrs. Myers, in Hopelessly in June.
“[It’s] dealing with today’s attitudes and issues, and … how it clashes with yesterday’s attitudes, in a comical way,” Joyce said. “It’s not your average romantic comedy. It has a funny bone appeal to moms, and yet it strikes at the heart.”
Phase 4 Films offers the movie on DVD ($29.99) June 12 (order date May 8), with deleted scenes and outtakes from the ensemble cast, which also stars Vincent Brantley, Carolyn Neff, Peter Jason, Keith David, Stuart Pankin, Edward Asner, Tommy “Tiny” Lister, Johnny Gill, Keith Robinson and Chalant Phifer.
In Hopelessly in June, a love blossoms between Daleon Myers (Brantley), an out-of-touch financial analyst whose meddling, Baptist parents (Joyce and David) are pushing for him to find “the one,” and June Flowers (Neff), a beautiful, charming businesswoman with two white dads (Jason and Pankin). However, the couple’s disparate upbringings and values threaten to tear apart their promising relationship.
The Myers family is in for an awkward surprise when they meet the very liberal and eccentric Frankie and Francaise Flowers. While enchanted with their adopted daughter, June, Daleon and his parents initially are uncomfortable with the accommodating gay couple — a social-political commentary on how some in the African-American community perceive homosexuality, Brantley said.
“It’s the mom who all of a sudden realizes, ‘You’ve got to accept it,’ because mom is the center,” Joyce said. “She’s the heart. ... I think mothers would enjoy the craziness of it. I’ve heard so many mothers say that [children] don’t come with an instruction book. … All the little twists and turns that we see, we’re kind of not expecting. Then when we get hit with it, we’re like, ‘OK, so what?’
“This is a beautiful girl. She obviously was raised very well,” she added. “That’s another thing the story subtly touches on: Look at how great she turned out.”
Brantley, who makes his directorial debut and also co-wrote and produced Hopelessly in June, said Joyce was his top choice for the role of Mrs. Myers, a character he created with familiar references in mind.
“Having strong female influences in my life kind of collectively gave me the instincts about who Daleon’s mom was,” he said. “Mrs. Myers was a very strong-willed and determined character, which I thought influenced Daleon’s introvert [side], trying to control his life, make sure he’s in church. He’s finally at the point where he’s not listening to her and he is listening more to his friends.”
Though Joyce has no children of her own, she is familiar with playing the matriarch archetype, seen in her work from early 1990s sitcom “Roc,” Who Made the Potatoe Salad? and others.
“What I tried to do with Mrs. Myers is just make her a sort of updated Baptist church lady, as opposed to playing a stereotypical character,” Joyce said. “[I wanted to] just make her today’s lady. … Wanting to see her son get married and wanting to see him happy rings home with a lot of people.”
With heartening messages of hope and acceptance, Brantley said Hopelessly in June’s appeal to a female or motherly audience is only natural.
“I think one of the most important things about mothers is their ability to love and love unconditionally,” he said. “I think this will just add to the existing humanity that mothers already possess, and sort of a confirmation to mothers, especially if they have sons like Daleon, that there’s some hope.
“Love is unconditional,” Brantley added. “No matter how strange or uncomfortable a situation, we can always find a way through our humanity and love.”