by Martin Hafer
Simpler Times is a wonderful short film and although it debuted in 2014, depending on when exactly it debuted that year, it might be still eligible for the nomination for the Best Live Action Short Oscar--something which it clearly deserves. Rarely do I say 'See this film'--but you must with this one!
I don't know how director Steve Monarque was able to secure his services, but he got the veteran comedian Jerry Stiller to star in this lovely comedy about a man aging in a digital world. Harry (Stiller) is a widower and his daughter and her family have just invited this old man to move in with them. However, this family is completely clueless on how to integrate him into their lives. While he's an 80-something year old man, they expect him to quickly master how to use a smart phone, bluetooth, email and all the other tech gadgets that young folks take for granted. As for Harry, he just wants to buy a newspaper--not a digital paper, not news on the internet...just an honest to goodness printed newspaper. Unfortunately, his quest leads him from one problem to another to another!
While this plot sounds incredibly simple, the film is anything but. Because Monarque has such a deft hand, he allows the picture to unfold slowly...but it's never too slow. Instead, the pace is gentle and fun--fitting perfectly with Stiller's reactions to all these crazy devices. His reactions are priceless and are among the funniest I've ever seen. The theater in which I saw this film burst into laughter repeatedly and the film is easy to love. Additionally, near the very end of Simpler Times, you get a real treat...a brief appearance by Stiller's real-life wife, Anne Meara shortly before her recent death. My eyes welled up seeing them together one last time, as will any who are also fans of this wonderful 1960s comedy team.
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