Ashby – ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review
Ed Wallis (Nat Wolff) has just moved to town with his mother (Sarah Silverman) and is having some difficulties fitting in at his new high school. Ed’s a good student but he really wants to play on the football team. Soon, he makes friends with Eloise (Emma Roberts) a pretty girl who is also smart, and is also a bit of an outcast at school. One of his school assignments is to interview an older person, and with that, Ed meets Ashby, his neighbour, who is a retired CIA assassin who has recently learned he only has a few months left to live. The older man and the younger man don’t really connect at first until Ashby’s past comes back to haunt him. With his deteriorating health preventing him from carrying out his final kills, he gets Ed to drive his car for him, unknowingly delivering him to his targets. Eventually Ed learns what’s been going on, but he’s developed a friendship with Ashby, who has helped him break out of his shell, convinced him to join the football team, and guided him in other parts of life where he needed a father figure.
While Ashby was a fairly predictable coming of age story, it was enjoyable. Not because it really did anything different, but because of the very likeable cast. Humour was good, characters were relatable….well as relatable as a retired assassin can be. Mickey Rourke was very good. I’ve not seen a lot of his movies, but from what I have seen, he was a lot more subdued in Ashby. Nat Wolff was a very likeable lead, in an interesting role. He was supposed to be a bit of an outcast because he was a newcomer, but he was smart but not nerdy, and he was athletic but not a jock. He was really a perfectly normal, perfectly likeable teenager that would be popular if he wasn’t the “new kid”. It was fun to see that spin on a what could be a typical “social outcast” story. Emma Roberts seems to have popped up in quite a few films I’ve found interesting, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Adult World, Virginia, 18.104.22.168. (and I’m quite interested to see Nerve when it comes to DVD next month), and she didn’t disappoint in Ashby either. I can’t forget to mention how good Sarah Silverman was as Ed’s mother either. Not over the top, not just a comedian putting their standup into an acting role, though she had great comedic timing and left each scene with a smile.
A nice mix of action and humour, with a bit of romance thrown in. I thought that the ambiguity of whether Ed was an outcast, or a cool kid was used quite well. Throughout the film he could have been either, and eventually he learns the necessary life lessons from Ashby to deliver us the feel good ending you knew the film would. Maybe not an earth shattering film, but still a pleasant B-movie indie discovery.
Bottom Line: I would have liked to have met a girl like Eloise in high school….