Although it showed signs of ambition, it ultimately suffers from a mixed bag of acting performances and a script that tries to do too much.
The Diary of Preston Plummer
The Diary of Preston Plummer feels like a very personal film for writer and director Sean Ackerman; essentially about two young souls that fall in love and discover they each have their own painful family histories. This indie film stars Trevor Morgan and the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, Rumer Willis. Although the film showed signs of ambition, it ultimately suffers from a mixed bag of acting performances and a script that tries to do too much.
On graduation day Preston Plummer (Trevor Morgan) is found drinking liquor alone in the science lab while speaking into a tape recorder. His teacher enters and asks why her best student opted not to dress up to walk with the rest of his classmates, to which he responds, that it is simply too expensive to buy a cap and gown. A few things are told in this opening scene; the first one is that Preston spends a lot of time alone. Also, that he is a smart guy but does not have much money to his name. But most importantly, it is revealed that his mother is not a part of his life anymore as he dictates his diary into a tape recorder.
Later on that evening, he attends a house party full of students (even though it seems very uncharacteristic for him to do so) who are celebrating their completion of their college degree. But just as faith would have it, he meets a girl named Kate Cather (Rumer Willis), who just has a violent argument with her boyfriend. He helps bandage her small wound and they escape from the party through a bathroom window. As he is dropping Kate off at her place, she asks out of the blue if he would drive her to her parent’s home in Florida. The request is a very particular one since they just met an hour ago. It is evident that Preston is just as taken aback by her forward request. He is hesitant to go but eventually agrees when she tells him she will pay for everything.
During the course of The Diary of Preston Plummer, there were many unintentionally awkward scenes that have leaves one scratching their head. One example of this is when Preston first arrives in Florida, he is invited to visit Kate’s grandfather John (Robert Loggia). Without bringing or even telling Kate, he pays a visit to John who goes on and on about owning more land than anyone else in the area. The conversation is awkward as it mostly involves John telling Preston random riddles, but it is eventually revealed that John does not get along with anyone in the family. It makes you wonder why anyone would agree to visit someone’s grandfather by themself, especially when they barely even know the person whose grandfather it is. Secondly, if the grandfather is so disconnected from the family, it seems awfully convenient that he knew right when Preston got into town.
The best part of the film was the cinematography from Miguel Drake-McLaughlin. He was able to capture the picturesque scenery of the Florida shoreline which made the film easy on the eyes. As a whole, the film struggled in several areas but the camera work was always on par. The most memorable scene was the opening underwater shot of furniture sinking to the bottom of a pool, setting the mood of film wonderfully.
By the far the greatest performance in the film was from Robert Loggia. Sadly, Loggia was the only one who was not rigid throughout the film. Unlike the rest of the cast, he was animated and his delivery was full of conviction. More often than not, lines felt like they were just being read aloud instead of actually being performed. This was most noticeable when the two leads shared the screen together, which unfortunately was a fair amount of the time. The performances start to come around by the very end, but by then it was too late.
It was hard to believe what is happening on the screen during The Diary of Preston Plummer because the storyline felt contrived and the acting performances lacked any conviction. In the end, the film may have tried to do too much with what it had. The subplot of Kate’s family history ends up overshadowing the main plot of the film, as it initially starts out as a road trip love story between Preston and Kate, but quickly shifts into being about solving a family mystery. Small glimpses of potential are briefly seen in the film, but they never fully emerge.