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We Are the Hartmans' Review

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Laura's a bit psychic.

I'll let you be the judge though. Two years ago, Laura Newman began writing a comedic film entitled We are the Hartman's, which debuted at the 2011 CMJ Film Festival on Thursday.

The plot follows Jordan, played by Ben Curtis, an employee at Hartman's Club, as he goes on a journey to save the club owned by Mr. Hartman, played by Richard Chamberlain. The story progresses to reveal relationships between Hartman's family and town members as they all react to his terminal illness, the financial pressures of keeping the Hartman club open, rebellion against corporate America and big-chain superstores, and an occupation, (that's right an OCCUPATION), in order to revive the pulse of small-town individuality.

Throw a bit of pot, nudity, humor and disorganized leadership, and We are the Hartman's smells faintly of Zuccotti Park and the other Occupy movements across the nation. "It shows that we are on the heartbeat of what's going on," Newman, modestly explained at a CMJ Q&A after the screening.

Newman co-wrote the film with Peter J. Brash, an Emmy-award winning writer. The project started as a community project, where many of the actors created their own characters and cooperatively worked on creating a script that is reflective of one of the current American struggles. We are the Hartmans' shows the pull between the town members who have been influenced by Hartman and his club, and his estranged family members. "There's this struggle between these two groups...the people in the club rise up to keep the club alive, because if the club closes the town dies," he explains.

The 'occupation' parallel became apparent when Curtis's character, an Afghanistan war veteran, pulls a knife out on the local police officer and Mr. Hartman's pregnant daughter-- runs into the club with Diana, played by Jennifer Restivo, his love interest and Mr. Hartman's other daughter, and calls an occupation to prevent the club from closing. That night happens to be LGBT fantasy football night at the club, and everyone else is there too, including hippies, rockstars, and pastors. With so many personalities in house, the characters find it hard to come to any decision when they are asked to list their demands-- the crowd suggests large amount of moneys and a private jet, but they just end up ordering pizza.

Hmph. Anti-climatic, kind of like the Occupy movement thus far, which hasn't yielded any results. But the movie is better than that; it takes us on a joy ride from start to finish, pinked with great acting, witty writing and topics that the 99% can relate too. Much of the movies feel-good appeal comes from the cast's harmonic synergy, rocking soundtrack, and organic characters.

"We all have a lot of love," the main character said. "Love and belief in yourself, along with integrity and commitment is how you get things done." The movie debuted this year at the Atlanta Film Festival's Gala Presentation, and will go on a Rock Tour entitled the "The Hartmans Rock New York Tour" in Brooklyn and Manhattan, starting Wednesday, Nov. 2 at Hiro Ballroom.