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Review: Veteran musicians chase a dream long-deferred in amiable ‘The Independents’

Greg Naughton, Brian Chartrand and Rich Price in the movie "The Independents."
Greg Naughton, left, Brian Chartrand and Rich Price in “The Independents.”
(RGB Film)

In the tuneful dramedy “The Independents,” three aspiring musicians with dead-end showbiz careers meet serendipitously, and discover that their respective gentle folk-rock sounds blend beautifully. Now they have a hard choice to make. Having abandoned their dreams once, can they muster the will to push themselves back through the industry grinder?

“The Independents” was written and directed by Greg Naughton, who also stars alongside Rich Price and Brian Chartrand — his cohorts in the real-life band the Sweet Remains. The movie functions as a kind of origin story for the trio, albeit a heavily fictionalized one. These guys might not have literally connected in the way this film describes but there’s a spiritual truth to the way their big-screen adventures play out.

The band, dubbed “RGB” (for Rich, Greg and Brian), struggles in ways common to any group trying to get heard outside their practice space. They have van trouble on their way to a gig. Greg has an estranged wife (played by his actual wife, Broadway star Kelli O’Hara) whom he may lose if he hits the road. The boys meet a fast-talking promoter named Granny (Richard Kind) whose promise of a plum showcase in Los Angeles may be bogus.

The bulk of “The Independents” is about that cross-country L.A. road trip, which always seems on the brink of disaster. Whenever the situation is at its most dire, RGB return to their instruments, sing a few of their Crosby Stills & Nash-like songs and remember why they’re doing this.

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Those musical numbers — frequent and fabulous — are also a good reminder for the audience. “The Independents” is a wisp of a movie, generally likable but largely insubstantial. But when Price, Naughton and Chartrand start to play? The film becomes a warm and welcoming celebration of music for music’s sake.

'The Independents'

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Virtual Cinema through March 11


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