Bethany Pruitt (Ashley Rickards) is the valedictorian of the Pruitt Home School Class of 2011; among an incredible graduating class of… well, one. Her domineering, cash-strapped mother June (Anna Gunn) has already made plans for her daughter to go to college, online. But Bethany has plans of her own, like going to fashion design school, like getting away from the prison of a home her mother has made for her; and perhaps meeting a boy, like her neighbor Hector (Rene Rosado), who seems to be interested in her too. However, when June dashes those mall hopes with one 24 hour tirade of public humiliation and ridicule, Bethany flees to go love with her father Dale (Diedrich Bader).
Dale lives in Bakersfield with his boyfriend Chip (Haley Joel Osmont). The couple is overjoyed to provide refugee for Bethany and ready to support her in anything she needs, to a point. Bethany begins to chase the dream of fashion school when false friendships and family misfortune repeatedly drive her back to square one, It is unclear if Bethany will have the tenacity to pursue her dreams when fate’s cannons seem fixed against her success.
I loved this film. Bethany’s story is not about hope. It is about being proactive in your life and your future. Sassy Pants is about finding a way to get what you want and teaching others to respect your ambitions and identity. Bethany comes of age brilliantly and serves as an example to those around her, namely her mother and baby brother Shayne (Martin Spanjers).
Quirky and funny, albeit a bit dark, Sassy Pants is a great family film with a beautiful message. This girl’s journey is not despite her own delusions of grandeur, nor overwhelming odds. Bethany’s struggle is with fate and circumstances, the kind we all struggle with in everyday life, but the kind of which are only surmountable with force of will. Ashley Rickards performance is so genuine and hugely identifiable. Her journey is about perseverance and self-confidence in spite of her environment.
The performances across the board with terrific. High marks for Jenny O’Hara, Diedrich Bader and Anna Gunn as well for their honest portrayal of flaw people, doing their best to be good parents (even though they fail almost entirely). Well Done.
Sassy Pants is an official selection of Outfest: The 30th Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival running July 12-22, 2012 in Downtown Los Angeles and in select theatres around Los Angeles & Hollywood.