Anyone who knows me or has read my bio knows that I hail from the best kept secret in America, Buffalo, NY. I’m proud to be from Buffalo and this city and its people. In fact, if you have ever met someone from Buffalo chances are they aren’t ashamed of it and have a deep loyalty to the area.
Because we are considered a small town, when big things happen here everyone knows about it, such as famous visitors, major events and movies being filmed here. We even get excited when Monday Night Football is in town. When local actor/writer/producer Greg Stuhr decided to make his next movie here, people definitely heard about it. With actors such as Matthew Broderick, Camilla Belle, Robert Forrester, Janeane Garofalo and Robert Vaughn all having roles, you can see why this would catch the eye of a small town like ours.
The American Side is Greg Stuhr’s love letter to his home and city he obviously loves. Visually, it does more for the city of Buffalo than any other film made here, including Buffalo ’66 and The Natural. There are familiar places at every turn, and even better is that they don’t at all distract from the story and the pace of the movie.
This is the story of a small time private eye who is usually hired to find cheating husbands and track down runaways. He soon stumbles upon a case that is much bigger than anything he has ever seen or heard of before. His case goes back over 100 years and the secrets of one of history’s greatest scientists. The layers of the onion quickly begin to fall off and Charlie Paczynski soon finds himself deep in the throws of a giant conspiracy full of secrets he shouldn’t know about.
I did my best to look at this film as a movie fan and to give it my best and most truthful review. I will admit that my love of Buffalo and the perfect use of the city and its scenery does make me love it more than some will.
It is a throwback to the mystery film noir’s of the ’40’s and ’50’s. The lead character is the unlikely protagonist whose curiosity and dedication may be his downfall, but does nothing to stop him from getting the answers he needs. The dialogue is what gives it the noir authenticity and what some people will find as a flaw in the film, but is exactly what is intended and makes it a good modern film noir.
The American Side is nearly perfectly cast, which is difficult for most independent films, especially with this type of genre. Greg Stuhr and director Jenna Ricker seem to pull off exactly what was intended by this movie and give it the fun factor that makes it so enjoyable.
Buffalo natives will love seeing their city and references to our greatest treasures throughout, including Stuhr delivering the line, “top shelf where momma hides the cookies”, a favorite of all Buffalo hockey fans who love their legendary play by play man, Rick Jeanneret. This is without question a film that can be enjoyed by all… but if you have Buffalo in your blood it will thrill you even more.