Wade on Birmingham

Sidewalk 2007: Demented and sad, but social


Contributing writer Stacy Vance reviewed “Overflow” by Birmingham director Jana Harris:

overflowFor those of us who miss the guilty pleasure of the ABC after-school special, “Overflow” gives a respectable shot at resurrecting the teenage drama, complete with the valuable lesson to take away.

The film screens Sunday at the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival.

Clip: JP has already broughten it in ‘Overflow.’

It’s the first day of summer vacation, but for six students, it’s a day of detention for violations committed on the last day of class. Yes, you might recognize “The Breakfast Club” premise at the beginning of the film, but writer-director Jana Harris builds her characters with a slant to the Birmingham area (though other cities could certainly identify with the characters).

Rather than universal types from Anywhere High School such as the Rebel, the Jock, the Beauty Queen, the Outcast and so on, Harris’ characters are placed in a mostly black school with their own set of labels. The mouthy rebel is still notably present (JP), but you also have his sidekick (Brandon), the president of the Bible Club (Candace), the transfer student (Carl), the teen mother (Patrizia) and the troubled honor student (Peterson).


JP, left, confronts Peterson in ‘Overflow.’

Throughout this 68-minute feature, the forced confinement finds the students revealing personal details of their personal lives (hey, it could happen in half a day!). The charismatic JP really shines in the film as the guy that is both annoying and endearing. His glib delivery fleshes out the insecurities of the other students, while suggesting the underlying intelligence that all bullies seem to posses. It’s hard not to pull for JP in hope for his ultimate redemption.

“Overflow” tackles a multitude of heady teen issues as it reveals more about the lives of each student beneath his social image. Though this feature might be more well placed as a student video, some of the writer’s platforms (creation over evolution) might prevent it from being shown in schools. Um, can’t we all just get along?


Carl and Candace talk it out in ‘Overflow.’

The nicely executed close-ups, well-timed fades and camera movements help to keep the mostly one-room setting fresh. At times, you see the spotty sound and lighting typical of a low-budget film, but the writing is what develops the plot within the limited setting. With the acting and dialogue, I found some of the characters unbelievable at times, but I ended up liking them anyway.

“Overflow” successfully captures the emotional struggle of wanting to move beyond an often unwarranted role in the teenage social hierarchy. And yes, important lessons will be learned by all.

stacy vanceStacy Vance — who worked as an actress on the Birmingham-based feature “Killing Christian” and the Sidewalk Scramble entry “WTF?” — is a sales rep for Raypress Corporation, a local specialty label company.

“Overflow” will screen at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Alabama Theatre.


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