After taking some time off due to a medical condition, a cafe owner returns to his business to find it being run by a group of unqualified misfits in Linda Palmer’s new feature film Turnover.
There have been many films about misfits, loners, and outsiders made over the years; it is a tale as old as time. No matter who these people are, their stories always begin and end in the same way. First, they will mope about, struggle to fit in, be uncomfortable in each other’s company but during the course of the action, they will knuckle down, bond, make friends, gain confidence and eventually rise up together to defeat whatever obstacle has been holding them all back.
You can find these types of movies just about anywhere but these films have never been about the clichés, plot points or denouement, these types of stories have always been about the characters involved. As long as your audience likes the characters they will follow them wherever they go, no matter how familiar their journey is. Thankfully Linda Palmer’s new dramedy Turnover has an abundance of loveable geeks, goons and losers for the audience to invest in and we are more than happy to follow them around for the entire 2hr run time.
Peter (played by CSI stalwart Paul Guilfoyle) is an average joe, an honest, hard-working, hard-living working-class guy. Having built his restaurant business from the ground up he now finds himself in the twilight of his life, close to retirement but even closer to death. His hard-living ways having taken a toll on his health, his marriage, his friendships and when we meet him, his personal life is a complete mess. Going through a divorce with a young son to look after, Peter is told by his physician that he needs a break immediately or he will die.
Leaving his manager and right-hand man of many years Henry behind to look after the café, Peter takes a much needed holiday. However, while he is away, his scheming and soon to be ex-wife Fran (a deliciously evil Kat Kramer) relays to Henry that she will be taking over the new Café until Peter’s son is old enough to run it for himself.
In a fit of pique, Henry (played flamboyantly by Glee’s Riker Lynch) decides to quit his job but not before he sabotages Peter’s business by hiring new staff who are completely unfit and unprepared to run an eatery.
At this point, we are presented with many familiar character stereotypes as Henry hires an elderly lady named Gladys as a head waitress, the wonderful Julia Silverman managing to channel Golden Girls legend Estelle Getty with her sometimes biting performance. A Hispanic ex-con who can’t speak English as head chef, the mean and moody Carlos Carrasco. Adwin Brown plays the unqualified and effete William who is hired as the new manager. A tardy and uncouth goth girl Pepper, played by Isabelle Blake Thomas whose performance and look reminded me rather brilliantly of Disgust from Pixar’s Inside Out and finally, a boy with down syndrome called Charlie (the consistently great Blair Williamson) is hired as the Café’s busboy.
Although there was a certain TV movie aspect to the film, when you consider the budget that the cast and crew were working with, that is no bad thing as I think Turnover would be perfect scheduling for the Hallmark Channel. The cinematography by Jennifer Hook remains intimate and friendly throughout the movie, highlighting each character’s warmth and dependency while Scot Simerly Jr’s editing remains simple and non-evasive.
The film does feel a tad overlong and with more discipline, I feel it could have been cut down a little to make it snappier without losing anything, but that said Turnover was an overwhelmingly nice and quite often uplifting experience.
The script written by director Linda Palmer is well observed with enough meat on each character’s bones to avoid the stereotyping that these types of eccentrics usually bring with them. There were also a number of small plot twists that helped to liven up the proceedings and keep the audience on their toes.
Will Peter and these misfits learn to work together? Will they change each other and those around them for the better? Will they go through major life changes and tragedies together? Will they all become one big happy family? I will leave all that for you to discover for yourselves but do try to catch Turnover if you can as the understated-yet-towering performance from Paul Guilfoyle is well worth the price of admission on its own.