Spooner Debuts on DVD March 15
“Quirky comedy” is one way to describe Spooner, although “pitiful portrait” could very well be a valid description. The lead character, Herman Spooner (Matthew Lillard, perfect in the role), is “socially awkward,” however the audience suspects that there’s a more appropriate syndrome, maladjustment, or disorder that applies to Spooner’s state of being. “Socially awkward” seems more like how parents and other relatives who are embarrassed about a diagnosis might describe their offspring.
Spooner is not a nut that’s fallen far from the tree, though; his father (Christopher McDonald) is not exactly socially adept either. His parents have given him a deadline to move out of their home, and they are dead serious about it. Is Spooner a coming-of-age story about a guy who is transitioning into adulthood? Yes and no. After all, Spooner is thirty years old, and his thirtieth birthday is his independence day—or maybe it’s his parents’ independence day.
Whether Spooner is a romantic/quirky comedy is a matter of perspective. It’s the story of a nearly-thirty used car salesman who is not good at relationships or communicating. He is impulsive, his social behavior is generally inappropriate, and he is reluctant to grow up. He is definitely not someone cut out for a career in sales—a career that is in jeopardy because he’s no good at it.
On the eve of his birthday, Spooner meets Rose Conlin (Nora Zehetner), a seemingly free spirit who is about to depart for the Philippines where she will teach. She is pretty and sweet, and he is almost immediately in love (no, scratch “almost”). They have a two-day relationship which he pretty much screws up. Spooner says and does the wrong thing as if it is hardwired into his personality, and Rose soon realizes that he may seem glib, cute, and maybe a little goofy, but the truth runs deeper.
Is Spooner a light-hearted rom-com? Maybe. Perhaps this viewer was too analytical in seeing it as the sad story of a man who can’t learn from his mistakes, and doesn’t have anyone interested enough in him to help. Spooner is well made, nicely acted, and enjoyable, although viewers may interpret it on a variety of levels.