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Empty Nester's Handbook

Written by: David N. Reyes |   Directed by: David N. Reyes |  Genre: Comedy / Drama

 Ben (Darin Murphy) and Sara (Laura Frances) finally have the house to themselves. This time, forever. The film opens with their son heading off to college and after snapping a picture, he drives off into the sunset leaving our starring married couple watching from the driveway. Is this a sad moment? It could be, but in Empty Nester’s Handbook, it’s exactly the opposite. Party time! At first that is. This couple does what I believe many would in their situation, finally get some good old fashioned alone time and that includes doing whatever they want, as loud as they want. I’m sure you can read between the lines. It’s during a night out to a local bar that we begin to see where this film is going. Ben is flabbergasted that Sara hasn’t seen one of Ben’s favorite films straight through until the end, actually, she’s never been able to sit through it. No biggie, it’s not important. Right?

 As the film progresses, well reader, let me put it this way. Ben becomes Benjamin and the party time, happy go lucky mood of these characters begins to change. The comedy of the movie begins to shift to a more serious tone and David N. Reyes’ movie starts to really tackle what a lot of people probably experience when their “us only” time becomes a permanent thing. Finding the reasons you fell in love with someone, after being together but not alone for 20 years can be a trip. One that Empty Nester’s Handbook gladly takes you on.

 I was actually expecting a lot more comedy. I’m not complaining, but this movie really is much more drama focused. The comedy comes from the situation itself, and the ability of the target audience to completely relate. Some of the more amusing aspects of this film may be lost on a younger crowd, but I highly doubt the younger crowd is who this film was meant for. A line in the film, it’s just going to be us like we’ve always talked about, struck me as one of the most powerful lines in the movie. It’s thoughts like that, that keep a lot of people together that have children. Oftentimes, using it as a crutch to get through the hard times. But it’s never that simple. As this film demonstrates, more alone time is more time to realize that you may not be as alike as you think. With no distractions, those little things begin to add up. Even the amount of t-shirts can be a slight annoyance. This is the most important message I found in this film. And it was a good one.

 Empty Nester’s Handbook is a swan song for those who can relate. Tackling subjects like being able to do things we’ve never had the time to do, interests, dislikes, and genuine emotions are all represented here. More drama than comedy, but amusing enough to spark the occasional laugh. So long as you are part of the target age group, I feel there really is a lot to love with this title. As luck would have it, I can’t totally relate yet – but that time is coming and as my child gets older, and me and my wife have more free time, I can see how this film probably nails the content. Thank you for reading, four stars.

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