Written and directed by Ben Tricklebank, co-written by James Phillip Gould-Bourn, Jake might only be 14, but that’s old enough to be a man as far as his dad is concerned. The only problem is that Jake isn’t sure he’s ready to grow up – at least not in the way that his dad wants him to. Starring: Drew Powell, Kingston Vernes and Trishauna Clarke.
One of the aspects which is immediately noticeable with this film is the colour palette, it’s perfectly nostalgic to set the film in a not too long ago era, as well as creating a timeless feel. Ignoring the technology aspect, it could nicely fit into any number of years in the past few decades. In turn that sets up a relatable feel, which fits perfectly well with the family story they’re telling. The directorial style plays it simple but classic, with a mid-west air, it’s nostalgic and holds a softened texture.
The writing dives into the typical single father-son relationship, with all the usual distance created by his parents’ separation and conflict with comparing his father to his mother’s new boyfriend. All of that comes with some solid tension which is very easy to watch, then when it finally reveals the entirety of its story, it adds a number of layers. It opens up a larger explanation for their relationship, as well as why his parents separated, it’s a clever way to wrap things up neatly, while being highly entertaining and satisfying.
Drew Powell and Kingston Vernes make for a great duo, their chemistry is instantly convincing. Powell ticks every possible box on the deadbeat dad bingo, and does it with ease. Vernes has the teen angst and rebellion under the typical brooding, but still neither of them feel overly formulaic or repetitive, they give their characters individual personalities. There’s also a nice biting quality to the way that they speak to each other, the care is hidden beneath an initial layer of friction but their genuine, loving relationship is also entirely visible.
Champ is a well written and directed short film with a classic, nostalgic look and a timeless feel. It traverses down the known road of father-son relationships but has its own spin to add to the mix. A final reveal makes for an unexpected joy and a clever way to add context in such a brief runtime.