We’ve all done it. Perhaps it came from the radio, a late night jock with a velvety voice, or on the phone, a daily call with a working colleague whom you’ve never seen, but you’re dying to know what they look like. There’s just something about their sound that attracts you. And while wanting to meet them could be nothing more than mere curiosity, it could also be something else. In your mind you create an image. Perhaps you even build a character. But the truth is, once a meeting takes place, like the teenage girl with a crush on the radio guy with that great FM voice, but finally gets to meet him, facades are almost always shattered.
Meet Gabby (Rusty Schwimmer). In the off-beat, independent comedy from writer/director Francis Stokes, Wild Honey, Gabby is a Chicago-based phone sex operator. “I’m helping people,” she explains. “I get to use a really cool voice.” She works out of her bedroom, taking calls from horny sad sacks, like Michael. “You wanna take a bath?” Gabby asks Michael in the girlie voice of her alter ego, Roxie, all while completing her domestic chores, like folding her laundry, doing the ironing, or maybe even reading a book.
The phone sex business may be lucrative, but the problem is, luck is not on Gabby’s side. Just at the moment when the bathroom scenario with Michael is in the over-heated breath stage, Gabby glances out of her window and witnesses the repossession of her car. Worse, when she enters her boyfriend’s bedroom, she discovers a much younger looking woman naked and on the bed, with Vince (Todd Stashwick) the boyfriend, standing there with his pants down. “It’s not what it looks,” says Vince in his defense as he zips back up.
Then something changes for Gabby. While back at work in her room taking more calls, the friendly-voiced Martin (Timothy Omundson) checks in, and he’s not interested in either the ‘what are you wearing?’ question, or whether he’d like to strip naked and take a bath. “Can we just start with a conversation?” he asks. Gabby is surprised, but happy to talk, if that’s all Martin wants. After all, it’s his dime. And that’s what they do. They talk. For a long time. And while he tells her about his life as a Hollywood writer, Gabby listens, flips through the pages of a magazine, sweeps the bedroom floor, and eventually sits on the bed and plays with her hair. Plus, something happens to her voice. Instead of maintaining Roxie’s seductive girlie sound, Gabby relaxes and drops the pretense; her real voice emerges.
With nothing to lose – the car’s gone, she’s moved in with her mother, and Vince the boyfriend is now suing her – on a whim, Gabby decides to leave snowy Chicago and fly to Los Angeles. Why not? Her successful sister lives there, so she can pretend she’s in LA to catch up with some family matters, but in reality it’s to meet the voice on the other end of the line; to meet Martin. “What if you don’t like what you see?” asks Gabby’s friend.
What happens to Gabby once she lands in California might be what you’ll expect – facades will come tumbling down, and those pretending to be one thing will be something else – but Wild Honey is such likable fun, and both Schwimmer and Omundson make their Gabby and Martin such appealing characters, the ability to predict ruins nothing. You’re happy to take the journey. Plus director Stokes’ screenplay is so full of delightful wit, quotable quips, and several relatable truths of what happens when you’re mind has overreached, you’re on Gabby’s side, right from the moment when her car is repossessed.
As Gabby later concludes when reflecting back on the guy with the great voice on the phone, “He’s like my grandma’s tin of Royal Dansk’s Butter Cookies: looks delicious, but when you open it, it’s a sewing kit.” Some lessons are learned the hard way and not altogether welcome, but watching Gabby learn hers in the 88 minute comedy Wild Honey has rarely been so amusing.
Wild Honey will be shown on Wednesday, February 28 at 4:10 pm, with a repeat performance on Saturday, Mar 3 at 7:10 pm.
For a direct link to the 2018 Sedona International Film Festival schedule and to order tickets for Wild Honey, CLICK HERE