J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Hickey: Everything Must Go

Compared to Cy’s, Crazy Eddie’s was a classy joint. Ryan Chess works for one of their lowest volume stores—or at least he did. It is about to be shuttered for failing to make its sales goals. That shouldn’t excessively trouble a college-bound senior accepted by MIT, but there is a girl involved in Alex Grossman’s Hickey (trailer here), which opens this Friday in Los Angeles.

For embarrassing reasons, Chess was saddled with the nick-name “Hickey” and he just can’t shake it. It certainly does not help him make any headway with Carly Alvarez, the co-worker he has carries a torch for. She has dreams of pop stardom, but her own insecurities and perfectionism are holding her back. Unlike Chess, she really needs her job at Cy’s to pay her bills. Presumably, Chess will be off to MIT in the fall, but at the last minute he applied to UCLA to stay near her and to look after his recently divorced mother.

Cy’s regional sales manager and MLB washout Brady “The Hawk” Krane throws everyone’s plans into chaos with the announcement of their store closure. However, being a whiz at numbers, Chess rallies the motley staff to make a Hail Mary attempt to hit their sales goal in the remaining hours of the day. Some of his plans are reasonably clever, like luring in the medical marijuana dispensary’s “patients” with free pizza. Frustratingly, they will still probably come up short because the store is just too lame. Krane has also most likely been cooking the books against them, which makes Alvarez’s flirtatious friendship with him even more appalling to Chess.

The poorly titled Hickey is a likable movie that will stir nostalgia for crummy summer jobs and bittersweet summer crushes. The young up-and-coming cast has a lot of screen sizzle, especially Raychel Diane Weiner as the gothy sales clerk Ellen Blum. Troy Doherty and Flavia Watson have some nice early John Hughes chemistry going on as Chess and Alvarez, but Zedrick Restauro is a bit too “on” as his best bud Jeremy. Perhaps the real surprise is the dignity and pathos Tommy “Tiny” Lister adds as Henry, the slightly punchy security guard.

Grossman never redefines the teen angst rom-com, but he has a knack for characterization. You’d have to be pretty darned curmudgeonly to actively dislike Hickey. Most viewers who grew up with John Hughes movies or the subsequent generations with their WB teen shows will probably take quite a shine to it. Recommended for its gawky charm, Hickey opens this Friday (1/6) in Los Angeles, at the Arena CineLounge.

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