Not every movie has to be like Avengers HUGE with big grand scale and scope with awesome effects. Sometimes all a movie needs is to be entertaining. Films and other forms of entertainment do this in different ways. In the case of Susie Q it follows a sense of a Disney tradition of a small, charming and entertaining film. These types of films are not the greatest, but theyâ€™re nowhere near the worst. This is my personal favorite DCOM because of how entertaining it is in a small way.
Susie Q if you havenâ€™t guessed is the name of a character and also a 1950s song. Susan Quinn is getting ready for her Winter Formal at her high school. The year is 1955 in a small Washington town of Willow Valley and Susie is pretty much the standard high school pretty girl (did I mention sheâ€™s played by Kimberly from Power Rangers) her boyfriend is captain of the basketball team and her father is obviously the coach and she is the cheerleader! Susie and her boyfriend get in the car and drive away, but tragically they get hit by a drunk driver and they both sadly die with their car going over a small bridge and into the river below. THE END!!!!!!!Â
Nah Iâ€™m kidding, still thatâ€™s a pretty grim way to open the movie. Cut to 40 years later (1995 which is the year the film came out) where teenager Zach Sands has moved to Willow Valley with his mother and sister. As you might have already guessed since the Dad isnâ€™t there heâ€™s obviously dead too. Zach and his family coincidentally move in to Susieâ€™s old house.Â Susieâ€™s parents retired and they lost their house in the mid 80s so it was up for sale (Pay attention to that!). Zachâ€™s sister who is an ungrateful little snot is very unenthusiastic and blatantly rude and is a buzzkill so no Iâ€™m not going to talk about her in the character section. Zachâ€™s sister reluctantly starts to help with moving in and she starts to notice paranormal activity going on. Zach tells his sister that itâ€™s nothing but stress from the move. While theyâ€™re fishing in the same river that Susie died in Zach finds the bracelet that Susieâ€™s boyfriend gave to her that fateful night. After keeping the bracelet Zach starts to see a mysterious girl in a pink dress lurking around his house.
When Zach confronts the girl the audience learns that Susie is a ghost and the only way Zach can see her is because he found the necklace and serves as Susieâ€™s living contact and confidant. After some hijinks with Zach talking and interacting with Susie who is invisible to others so he looks like an idiot we find out the conflict of this movie.Â The audience knows that before Susie left that her grandfather was looking for important documents to give to Susieâ€™s mother and Susie said she would send her up, but never did and actually remembered halfway there which is why the car stopped on the bridge and it failed to restart so they could get out of the drunk driverâ€™s way. It is this little forgetfulness that caused Susieâ€™s parents to lose their house and end up in a trailer park because the documents were financial documents about their mortgage and ownership of certain other properties in the town. With those documents still hidden in Susieâ€™s house Zach must find them before itâ€™s too late because a greedy bank financier wants to tear down a trailer park filled with senior citizens and build pricey new houses and displacing those senior citizens most of whom (including Susieâ€™s parents) worked hard, gave back to the community, earned their retirements, and fallen on hard times just discarded like unwanted trash. Susie was sent back from the Great Beyond to right Â her mistake and to take care of the loved ones she left behind. So Zach visits the parents to gain background information and they eventually find the papers in a hidden room. The bully of the school who is theÂ financierâ€™s son has been spying on Zach and the father uses his economic and political influence to stop them and the climax is them overcoming these last few roadblocks until the inevitable reveal of the truth regarding the fact that Susieâ€™s parents are the rightful owners of the trailer park property. I wonâ€™t give away the ending ending so youâ€™re going to have to see it for yourself.
Susie Q is a nice, charming film with a solid story. Not everything adds up and there is sheer violation of really basic Constitutional rights, but theyâ€™re minor and donâ€™t come close to ruining the film.
The characters in Susie Q are quite likeable with the exception of Zachâ€™s sister. Zachâ€™s mom and basketball coach are solid characters. Susieâ€™s parents are very good. They capture the anxiety of the hard times theyâ€™ve fallen into very well. But the real focus is on our two lead characters and thatâ€™s where the real quality is.
Zach Sands: played by Justin Whalin
Yes I know that Zach is played by the guy that was the lead in the awful Dungeons and Dragons movie, but believe me when I say heâ€™s MUCH better here. The character of Zach blames himself for his fatherâ€™s death because he pressured his dad into trying to find a way to Zachâ€™s state championship basketball game after travel delays. So his dad rented a car and in his haste got into an accident and died. Whalin plays the guilt angle and the anxiety of the past year the character had very well and it really works. You donâ€™t blame him for his anxiety once Susie starts showing up and how he tries to process such an odd occurrence. But he becomes more invested and is given an experience that will help him move on and enjoy the rest of his life.
Susie Q: played by Kimberly (even if I knew her real name youâ€™d still just call her Kimberly anyway)
At first Susie is your typical 50s pretty girl, but as the film progresses you see sheâ€™s a tad more realistic and spunky going away from the stereotypes of the girls commonly seen from movies of that time period. Susie has her own guilt to deal with too because it was her negligence and her impatience that not only indirectly caused her death, but her parents losing everything. I love how the film shows how one small thing can start a chain of events that lead to bigger, greater and/ or terrible things. She plays that sense of guilt and pain that even though sheâ€™s there and can see her parents she canâ€™t interact with them at all and sheâ€™s extremely determined to help them. I also love the nice and quiet conversations she has with Zach on the concept of death and what goes through the mind of the dying person and so forth. Theyâ€™re very nice and the film doesnâ€™t resort to the bumbling annoyances that plague Disney live action shows and TV films today.
The only real thing musically to discuss is the song that the title is based on. There is a minor discrepancy since the song was actually released in 1957 not 1955 which is when Susie dies. The song is a nice song and itâ€™s not necessarily a song about Susie as a character, but more on how she makes men feel about her in this case Zach Sands.
The filmÂ is a standard pleasant looking film. I really like how the film plays with the audience a little bit in terms of tone because it starts off like a 1950s romantic comedy, then turns grim with the accident, then it turns into the new kid in town story, then it becomes a horror movie before the plot really gets going and you know what kind of movie it is. The effects are okay and obviously havenâ€™t aged as well, but theyâ€™re good enough. There are some logical gaps in terms of how come accounts of interactions with the dead didnâ€™t happen before, how come the grandpa didnâ€™t come back too and help Susie look for the documents since heâ€™s dead too and knows the general area of where to look. But thatâ€™s typical and you donâ€™t really question that kind of logic. Itâ€™s like how we donâ€™t ask the question â€œHow come in the Shaggy Dog the kid can still talk when the Dogâ€™s mouth doesnâ€™t move and it just sounds like a narration voiceover?â€ That kind of thing.
I really like this film. Itâ€™s got the charm and likeability of an oldschool Disney live action film with likeable characters and a solid plot. Stay tuned next time where the year is 1999 and we have a lot of Disney Channel original movies to cover!
VERDICT: 3.9 dead people out of 5Â