The Green Oak Guardian
Director: Lana Read
Writer: Duane Abel
Style: Romantic Comedy
Time: 92 minutes
Review by Mike Szymanski
Every great romance story involves two unlikely lovers who somehow end up falling for each other against all odds. Since Romeo and Juliet, it’s the same plot, whether you’re talking bout “You’ve Got Mail,” “Casablanca,” or my favorite (and widely underrated) romantic comedy “Romancing the Stone.” All these have two complete opposites who can never see themselves together, but somehow end up falling in love.
It’s not the outcome that is the story: that’s predictable. It’s the journey on how they get there that’s the fun.
In this romantic comedy “The Green Oak Guardian,” it’s impossible to believe that these characters will ever fall for each other. It’s that unlikelihood, along with a solid cast of actors and believable writing, that makes this one of the best romantic comedies to come along in a while. These kind of movies are hard to find.
A pompous well-known actor Grayson Kane is playing the role of a superhero The Green Oak Guardian movie. He needs a wholesome positive role to play because he is lately more known for his exploits with other starlets rather than his acting.
The writer of the Green Oak Guardian comics is Joanne McSween, who is the brilliance behind her father, Earl McSween, who gets the credit for the comic strip because she felt that a female action comic book writer wouldn’t be taken seriously in the traditionally male world.
Grayson is played by actor Houston Rhines and he looks like a young Rock Hudson, big, burly and macho. He treats women poorly, but he seems suddenly intrigued by this Joanne McSween when the film production takes place in the small rural town where the comic character is set.
Joanne is played by actress Abi Van Andel, who actually grew up on a farm in Michigan in real life and has a wide variety of work, including in “Dark Waters” directed by Todd Haynes and co-starring Mark Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway. She is a fine actress and shows her true range in this small movie.
Joanne’s father Earl is played by character actor Duffy Hudson, who also has a long resume, as well as Joanne’s sweet daughter played by Charlotte Teall.
Joanne isn’t thrilled with the idea of this Hollywood Casanova playing the character she berthed. But, the actor seems to think the only person he needs to butter-up is the father, Earl, who everyone thinks is the real creator of the Green Oak Guardian.
So, Joanne immediately has a distaste for the actor, and that makes him even more intrigued.
“It’s not every day you get to see your creation come to life,” Joanne says.
It turns out the character of the superhero is based on her late husband, who was a hero in his own right, and that’s how he died. That is why she is so protective of who portrays the Green Oak Guardian.
Grayson tries to become friendly with the McSween Family, and he joins them for a movie night that is starring his famous acting grandfather in an old classic called “Showdown at Blackheart Gulch.” They all like the movie, but they’re not sure about Grayson.
However, a breakdown on the film set softens Joanne toward Grayson a bit more when the obnoxious director (played by veteran action star Vernon Wells) wants to chop down a tree simply to get a perfect film shot. Grayson says no, and the director suddenly wants the lead actor fired.
A lot more distractions come between these two star-crossed potential lovers. The lead actress in the movie is a completely horrible Hollywood bimbo who hates the small town and all the people in it. There’s a handicapped security guard in a wheelchair, the well-meaning best friend who is also a reporter, and a completely obnoxious agent who tries to do the best for his client.
It’s nice so see the transitions between the two leads by these very solid actors as we follow how they begin to connect with each other.
The project is helmed by indie film director Lana Read, who is known for zombie movies, Christmas films, Westerns, episodic television and now finds herself doing a romantic comedy.
“This movie shows that sometimes our assumptions can be quite different than reality, the clash that can happen between big city hotshots and small-town values, and an unlikely romance that brings two worlds together,” says director Read.
“The Green Oak Guardian is a showcase of strong and feminine conquering heartache through creative immersion,” she adds. “I enjoyed directing this story due to the crossover genre, a quirky rom-com meets comic book hero. This story features the resilience and triumph of a single mother while simultaneously achieving role-model status with her young daughter.”
The director adds, “My goal for this film is to inspire, instill hope and encourage everyone to attempt achieving their creative dreams. The Green Oak Guardian is entertainment for the entire family and definitely features some valuable life lessons regarding growth, love and judgment of others.”
The movie is scheduled for release on May 15, 2023.