Anything for Jackson
by Hope Madden
Writer Keith Cooper and director Justin G. Dyck collaborate often, but nothing either one of them has done will properly prepare you for the reverse-exorcism horror Anything for Jackson.
Not Christmas with a View, or Christmas Catch, or Christmas with a Prince, or A Very Country Christmas, or Hometown Holiday, or Baby in a Manger, or A Christmas Exchange, or Dyck’s forthcoming Christmas in the Rockies and Christmas in the Wild.
It’s as if somewhere in the dead center of all that holiday hoopla, the duo decided they needed to just sit down and write something about the absolute opposite experience. And this is how they made a good movie.
Steeped in grief and boasting a small handful of beautiful performances, the film follows Dr. and Mrs. Walsh (Julian Richings and Sheila McCarthy), grandparents willing to do anything to bring their little Jackson back to them.
The opening sequence beautifully situates you in this particular brand of domestic bliss. The aging couple has a lived-in authenticity about them, even as they are embarking on a very new phase in their relationship.
The details of their little plot cause two simultaneous sets of complications, one legal and one supernatural. Where the filmmakers take this utterly lovely couple making incredibly ugly decisions is fascinating, primarily because of McCarthy and Richings’s performances.
They’re not alone. As their involuntary helpmate, Konstantina Mantelos creates a character in a role that rarely offers that opportunity.
There’s a clean simplicity in the storytelling that’s appealing, although Act 3 is not nearly as clearly defined or interesting as the balance of the film. But maybe it’s not the resolution the film is after, or really the audience. It’s the story of this sweet couple, mad with grief, that’ll get you.