In her weekly column, Instant Watching, Christie Dean talks about recently produced obscure and independent films that are made available through Netflix’s Instant Watch feature.

You know how some movies stick with you days after watching them? Maybe a story resonates with you, maybe you just completely understand the main character and their issues, or maybe some of the scenes affect you emotionally. After I finished watching Humble Pie over the weekend I wanted to grab a glass of water, sit back down on my couch, and watch the movie again. I was so drawn to the main character, Tracy, and his story that I found myself wanting to be his friend, or at least engage in a friendly chat with him while he scanned my groceries at the check-out register.

Tracy Orbison, played by Hubbel Palmer (who also wrote the film), is an ordinary guy who has been employed at the same grocery store for eleven years, and he has tried to obtain his driver’s license so many times that he knows the test administrator on a first-name basis. Overweight, he eats out of stress and sadness and endures constant verbal jabs by his self-pitying mother. After being captivated by an actor’s (played by William Baldwin) performance in a local theater production, Tracy signs up for acting classes believing that this is what he was meant for–that acting would help transform him from a nobody to a somebody. In addition, he befriends a new teenage grocery store employee named Kendis (Vincent Caso) and decides to act as a mentor to Kendis and his rough, trouble-making friends. Tracy’s journey to become someone extraordinary begins with promising opportunities, but his sense of achievement and acceptance are dashed by the people he cares most deeply about.  Tracy soon sees, though circumstances may be tough, the evidence of positive change happening in and around him through “glimpses of hope”, whether it’s a hug from a loved one or the words in a goofy inspirational poster.

The writing in Humble Pie is sensitive to the sadness and insecurities that burden its characters, but certainly does not sacrifice humor in the process. A lot of the scenes and character quirks are downright hilarious. William Baldwin’s character Truman Hope, a confident performer proud of his three-episode guest appearance on the TV show JAG and Tracy’s acting teacher, treats most if not all of his conversations as dialogue written in a play and exaggerates the mood to get an emotional response out of the listener. Kathleen Quinlan (Marilyn Lovell in Apollo 13) and Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe in 24) play Tracy’s religious mother and stuffed-animal collecting sister, respectively, and form the family structure that helps to explain Tracy’s search for meaning and approval in his life. Hubbel Palmer reminds me of John Candy, and I hope to see more of his acting through my Netflix Instant Watch adventure, if not when he has his big break.