By Josh Woods ~
Sometime soon you may find yourself on the verge of watching the newly released disc golf movie Hard Plastic, starring Andy Dick, Meg Dick and written and directed by Lucas Astrom. But before you spend the $2.99 and click the watch now button on Amazon, I suggest making the following mental preparations.
First, get ready for a dark comedy
If you’re looking for a silly, relaxing film to cap your workweek, this is not your jam. A respectable dark comedy should make you feel unsettled and yet strangely pleased with the half-hilarity of truly disturbing moments of everyday life. Without doubt, producing feelings of discomfort is the long suit of lead actor Andy Dick.
Hard Plastic tells the story of an aspiring disc golfer (“Lily” / Meg Dick) who gets kicked out of the house by her depressive alcoholic dad (Andy Dick) and goes to live in a tent in her best friend Nona’s (Natisha Anderson) backyard. It roughly follows the hero’s story, where the protagonist faces challenges but triumphs in the end. Lily overcomes eviction, familial crisis, a physical beating by an Ultimate Frisbee player, and a few bad putts before landing a sponsorship with Legacy Discs, winning some needed cash and patching things up with dad.
Second, respect the low-budget film
If you’re expecting the feel of high-budget filmmaking, you’ll be disappointed in Hard Plastic. But if you keep in mind that they spent less on this movie than the cost of a trip to Finland for the European Open, you might like it.
This movie was hatched on a crowdfunding campaign that raised $1,200. Hollywood spent $241 million making the Will Smith gem Wild Wild West (1999). I would rather watch Hard Plastic ten times in a row while receiving multiple root canals than view Wild Wild West even one more time.
Third, celebrate women being friends
Why do we have an official movie genre for nonsexual friendships between men, but not one for women? Why is the word “bromance” accepted as a correctly spelled term by Microsoft Word, but the word “womance” has a squiggly red line under it? This is not the place to unpack these tough questions, but it seems, at very least, reasonable to argue that we need more good womances. Hard Plastic delivers in this respect.
Fourth, the buddy story is awesome
Throughout the film, I kept hoping the camera would turn back to Lily and her caddy-sidekick Nona. They gave us solid moments of physical comedy, funny hopeful banter, and a solid portrayal of disc golf. Their intriguing representations of rising youth in the face of familial disfunction were like a blend of Thelma & Louise and Harold & Kumar, but without the weed and suicide.
Five, it’s the best disc golf movie of all time
Before you critique this film like a fanboy bashing the DGPT livestream, consider the alternatives. The sport of disc golf has appeared in roughly 19 feature-length films over the last twenty years (not including documentaries). From the Tao of Steve to the Hallmark Movie Cloudy with a Chance of Love, disc golf has never looked as good as it does in Hard Plastic.
There are a few disc-golf related inaccuracies in the film (in the first scene, that’s interference, not a “foot fault”), but most of the course scenes seemed authentic and fun. To appreciate what works in Hard Plastic, check out other disc golf movies, such as Discs and Dorks (2008), Frolf: The Movie (2009), the Ultimate Guide to Flight (2010) and Discin’ (2014). For now, Hard Plastic is our Happy Gilmore, and I’m okay with it.
This is not the best picture of 2020, but I’ll bet you $1,200 you can’t make a better disc golf film with $1,200.
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Parked is made possible in part by a grant from the Professional Disc Golf Association.