Full disclaimer: InReview was provided with a screener for the following film.
Part of growing up is realizing that the people who raise you and who you idolize are just that — people, with flaws, desires and needs just like anyone else. Ben Tricklebank’s short film “Champ” addresses this notion fantastically through very subtle character development and direction between a young boy named Jake (Kingston Vernes) and his dad, Danny (Drew Powell), who is alluded to as being separated from his wife, and Jake’s mother.
InReview often gets sent short films in our digital mailbag of all types of quality, from recent film school graduate projects to professional productions, and “Champ” firmly falls into the latter.
The film’s plot is very simple, consisting mostly of a car ride to what we eventually *spoilers* find is to a heist of some kind, *spoilers end* in which Danny tries to connect with Jake AKA “Champ”, who mostly rejects him despite his best efforts to look cool in front of him. Powell’s performance really makes this film work, as he is able to show what feels like genuine fatherly love through a character that is painfully flawed, immature, and clearly has a shady past and present.
The film’s ending does feel a little cheap and out of left field, and I can’t help but disregard it because the rest of the film is a fantastic slow burn between father and son in which we get to slowly unravel their relationship and why both it and Danny are so dysfunctional. But I honestly don’t know how else one could end this film in a satisfying way — I think any conclusion within the confines of this 14-minute film would feel rushed, as it feels like Tricklebank was setting up a much longer tale. With that being said, I think a longer, even feature length, version of this film could be wonderful.
“Champ” may not be perfect, but it is definitely worth a watch.