Adopted brothers Jody (Ryan Bottiglieri) and Ronnie (Britt George) go to extreme measures to save their gay dad’s family business by “wrestling” on the local circuit. Fighting for acceptance and unity they try to preserve the only stability they’ve ever known. Forever devoted to their insightful dad, Calvin, they struggle to hold things together in his time of need, along with the rest of their adopted family. With a colorful cast of characters ranging from hilarious, local wrestling buddies to volatile and unpredictable business associates, the Lackey family wrestles to realize dreams, the importance of change and responsibility, and for one, what might be love.
What We Thought:
Heels to me is pretty much the definition of independent film. It is a character driven movie with a personal story hidden in a ridiculous premise. If you read the synopsis you know the film is about two brothers trying to save their gay dad’s business through wrestling. Doesn’t exactly scream Hollywood studio picture now does it?
That’s where indie film makes its mark, stories and characters that Hollywood execs blow off. No offense to anyone involved in the film, but when Richard Riehle is the biggest name on the call sheet, the studio lead by a talking mouse probably isn’t paying for your production. This is where the Do-It-Yourself attitude works to tell the story you want to tell.
On face value Ryan Bottiglieri and Britt George’s characters are losers. They don’t have much money. They don’t have much going on in terms of careers. But they have heart. After the death of one of their adopted gay dads, they simply can’t let his business go. Their remaining father (Riehle’s character) seems lost and they push him to be happy again. That’s all they want, their family to be happy. They may dress up in ridiculous outfits and do fetish videos for cash, but they are doing it for a good reason.
Bottiglieri not only stars as one of the brothers, he wrote and directed the film. His movie is about people who seem real. His character might be falling in love. Of course that love interest has her own baggage. The family has other adopted members with their own issues. Every time the brothers think they are taking a step forward, something else happens. If you’ve ever had to take care of other people or ever had to fight to get ahead, you can relate to these characters.
The average movie goer won’t be aware of movies like Heels and that’s unfortunate. To me it’s a good example of what makes indie film so important. By using a silly concept you can shine some light on issues like same-sex parents, love, family, homelessness (sneaking that in on a date, nicely done!), and much more. It has believable characters, a believable situation and people with genuine heart making fools out of themselves. I can honestly say I haven’t seen this story done before.