By Lee Romero
One step at a time!
Of all idioms, ‘walk a mile in my shoes’ holds strong meaning. But in the case of comedian Jessica Watkins, it’s beyond a mile. It’s over 2,000; therefore, unless you’ve walked in her shoes, sandals, flats, sneakers, crocs, or socks, you have no idea. So, defining one’s method to their madness is complex. But if done with good intentions, respect and admiration is on high demand. ‘SPECIALish’ shines a spotlight on what it means to ride high on confidence, determination, setting a goal and keeping your eye on the prize.
The self-produced, comedic documentary follows Jessica across America during her 8-month journey. Setting off on a bike/hike trail that starts (and extends) from Delaware to California, the film presents a touching journey tangled in a web of uneven footing. A story with seeds planted back when leaving her native home of Nashville at 18 to pursue stardom, Jessica finds herself struggling as a standup comic in NYC. But living in an era of self-promotion and digital hoopla, she brainstorms and tackles a plan that entails leaving her life in NYC as she knows it to reignite her career (and hopefully land that big break)!
Setting off on what must be one of the most unique comedy tours ever, ‘SPECIALish’ provides an interesting POV. While walking along with a stroller full of survival goodies, Jessica sets up performances, mingles with locals, suffers an injury causing some setbacks, and almost taps out, but a radio interview that brings up old memories reshapes her focus.
Presenting a mishmash of footage from the road, the documentary is an interesting piece of art. A harsh, yet humorous exposition of how far one is willing to go to put themselves out there. Not only as a person, but in the world of entertainment, a brand, too – and that’s part of the fun. The film taps into all emotions. I rooted, laughed, cringed, and felt some anger towards someone who decides to do the dip on her, especially when Jessica’s at her most vulnerable. ‘What a prick!’ was the first thing that came to mind, and raised my level of support, respect, love, and admiration for Jessica.
The toughest part of her journey wasn’t dealing with the wilderness and/or landing laughs while touring. The biggest challenges (I think) came when gambling upon the “kindness” and “support” from both strangers and those she loves. Human nature can be as nasty as it is loving; however, that doesn’t rob the film of its magical exposition. Personally, I really, really enjoyed it. While not easy, Jessica’s journey is an inspirational tale of a woman’s personal dedication and resilience. Well-executed, Jessica Watkins has a witty way of expressing her art. In short, she owns it!
I wholeheartedly recommend joining Jessica on her walk. It’s one you’ll never forget. Brilliant, talented, funny, charismatic, charming, and beautiful… I can’t wait to see what Jessica does next!
Produced, written and directed by Jessica Watkins, ‘SPECIALish’ will be available on-demand and on all digital platforms on May 11, 2021.
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