By Don Simpson | January 27, 2015
Director: Gary Walkow
Writer: Gary Walkow
Starring: Neil Morrissey, Dot Walkow-Foster, Harry Walkow-Foster, Janie Dee
When Richard (Neil Morrissey) travels to England to visit Diane (Janie Dee), he ends up spending less time with his former lover and more time with her two rambunctious children — Dot (Dot Walkow-Foster) and Harry (Harry Walkow-Foster) — than he ever bargained for. We can only assume that Richard has some sort of romantic intentions for this visit, but those hopes are quickly diminished when Diane asks him to babysit Dot and Harry for a few days. Traveling on a very stingy budget, Richard somehow has to incorporate babysitting duties into his research for a writing assignment on famous coffeehouses and baristas in England. It is also important to note that Richard has never taken care of kids before — and Dot and Harry, though excruciatingly cute, are a handful, to say the least.
Richard does not actually like coffee, he prefers tea. (“Coffee, it is brown and warm… What else could you say that about?”) He perceives his writing assignment as an outsider’s view on coffee and “coffee tourism,” though his nonchalant attitude and lack of knowledge of coffee offends each of the baristas almost immediately. As it turns out, Harry is quite the connoisseur of coffee while Dot certainly knows her way around pastries. Despite their young ages, they both have significantly more refined palates than Richard.
Gary Walkow’s The Trouble with Dot & Harry is one of those extremely rare family comedies that is funny and sweet, yet so incredibly intelligent. All of the moments feel incredibly authentic, as if they have been lived through by the screenwriter, lending the story the feel of a memoir. (Note: Walkow is Dot and Harry’s real-life father.) Walkow brilliantly captures the awkward and uncomfortable moments as Richard flounders his way around child care. Richard constantly finds himself negotiating with the kids, as they are always pushing boundaries and testing limits. Dot and Harry try to learn as much as they can about this strange man, whether it be by Google searches or sneaking their mother’s signed copy of The Trouble with Dick (Richard’s first novel) along on the road trip. Richard learns an important lesson: by treating Dot and Harry like adults, he earns their respect and admiration.