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Hardy Buchanan (Skyler Gisondo) is a quite high school student able to go to a private school despite his mother’s (Kristin Chenoweth) financial straits. She struggles with some personal demons that puts a lot of burden on her son, but there’s also the pet dog that isn’t dong so well and needs surgery. Along comes Bo (Katrina Bowden), a stunning young woman with no direction who befriends Hardy. Both needing money, the two decide to cash in on the most basic urges of Hardy’s male classmates. He arranges to have her expose herself for cash. And it works well though there are some complications.
Written and Directed by Sean Nalaboff, Hard Sell is a mix of drama and light comedy, a coming of age story that dresses itself in the tropes of a teen sex romp but looks to be a lot more. The prospect of seeing Bowden (most known for her turn on television’s 30 Rock) nude is the trailer’s big pitch, but underneath that appears to be a more compelling story of a boy and his mother who is struggling with depression. That’s nothing new in movies, but Chenoweth is a good actor, almost exclusively known for comedy and eccentric characters. It’s good to see her take on a more dramatic role and she looks to be putting a lot of weight into the plot. As Indie films go, this seems to have all the right ingredients. Bowden’s character will have a past come back to haunt her of course, but as with Chenoweth, a more serious role could be just the thing she needs.
Gisondo has slowly been making waves in the industry, last seen as James Griswold in the reboot of the Vacation franchise. Having important roles in The Amazing Spider-Man and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, he’s poised for a breakout. The somber, shoe-gazer trope of an Indie film young man might not be the part to do it, but as a headliner, he’s sure to get some attention. He’s got great presence here.
Hard Sell opens May 20, 2016
Hannah Marks, Katrina Bowden, Kristin Chenoweth