Snack Shack (2024)

Snack Shack Review

Snack Shack

Midwesterners and fellow Nebraskans, we have a big-budget film that was set in and filmed entirely in Nebraska for the first time in forever. If you don’t understand why that’s such a big deal, let me tell you: Nebraska NEVER gets the Hollywood spotlight. And when it does, it’s usually for some movie about farmland or cornfields or the wild nature of our panhandle/western part of the state… unless it’s one of Alexander Payne’s films (Citizen Ruth, Election, About Schmidt, Nebraska). But with Snack Shack, director Adam Carter Rehmeier has made what could only be described as a love letter to his hometown of Nebraska City (population approximately 7200). What a breath of fresh air this is. Because Snack Shack doesn’t rely on any of those cliches Hollywood has created for us Cornhuskers. No siree! It’s just an honest-to-goodness teen comedy set in a small town with an awful lot of heart.

The year is 1991 and our two protagonists AJ (played by Conor Sherry) and Moose (Gabriel Labelle, who was last seen in The Fabelmans) are skipping their school field trip to the Omaha Zoo so they can bet on dog racing instead. You see, these two fifteen-year-olds are ambitious. They’re hustlers who wanna make a buck without having to work too hard for it. Unfortunately for AJ, his parents find out about his plans and force him to get a real job for the summer. Meanwhile Shane (Nick Robinson), their much older friend (who is also seeing Brooke behind both guys’ back), suggests they buy the snack shack at the pool from the city while they look for work elsewhere. So they do just that and wouldn’t ya know? Kids can’t seem to give AJ and Moose enough money in exchange for whatever snacks their hearts desire from the shack. But that’s just one of many problems for our heroes, because you see…they’re both in love with Brooke (Mika Abdalla), a new lifeguard at the pool who puts their friendship to the ultimate test.

Rehmeier wrote the script himself and he did a fantastic job taking the tropes of a coming-of-age teen comedy and coloring outside all of their lines. AJ and Moose are ambitious boys much like any duo we’ve seen before in this genre (think Evan and Seth from Superbad or Ferris and Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). They’re two early-teens scheming big; everything from making/selling their own beer to painting house numbers on curbs in an effort to make some quick cash. One would be considered a bad influence (that’d be Moose) while the other is just playing along despite his parents’ disapproval.

Sherry and Labelle’s chemistry is quick-witted and fun, but the comedic timing is what balances it out. Sherry does an awesome job with AJ; his entry was warm and fitting for the role. He doesn’t go overboard or play it too safe, he plays the character to himself. AJ’s a dorky kid who tries to act cool when talking to Brooke just to impress her because she thinks he’s cute too, and they build something together. On the other hand, LaBelle proves once again that The Fabelmans wasn’t a one-and-done situation for him. I thought he might not have much of a career after 2022 hit since I didn’t see anything else lined up like this before tonight…but boy was I wrong! Moose is always bossing AJ around because while being the brains of their duo sometimes gets carried away in planning things out so much which makes him unlikeable at times that Labelle intentionally wants you feel whenever he does wrong by AJ (which happens quite often).

The rest of the ensemble is great alongside Sherry & Labelle on screen; Nick Robinson’s Shane being AJ’s big brother figure nails it! There’s this scene where they’re eating runzas at some lake or pond or whatever and Shane gives AJ what seems like some pretty solid advice about how to handle both Brooke & Moose…or maybe just one? Well regardless those two are definitely involved in whatever situation these three boys find themselves embroiling into throughout Snack Shack!! David Costabile plays AJ’s dad who surprisingly has funny moments when scolding them along with Gillian Vigman as mom who also has her own share of comedic gold moments during parental scoldings too…And last but certainly not least Mika Abdalla!! Her performance as Brooke was such a joy; she jokes around super casually w/ AJ before their relationship blossoms into something more meaningful later on which adds depth & layers not always seen with this type of character in film. Some people might see her as one note or kind of blah but I thought it worked because it’s clear from the start that she wants to be friends first but then BAM! Sparks fly!!

Rehmeier paints Nebraska summers like I remember them as a teenager growing up there. Snack Shack’s plot could have taken place anywhere but he chose Nebraska City, which was a great decision on his part. This movie never once gives you what you expect from a film set in Nebraska, and thank God for that! It’s always refreshing when filmmakers realize there is more than cornfields and rural areas within states’ borders… although Omaha is where I call home so maybe I’m just biased? But really though even though Nebraska City isn’t nearly as big or bustling compared to Omaha, it still has its own neighborly charm if you know where to look (and no those places aren’t called corn fields either). Also shoutout to Jean-Philippe Bernier; the way he captures little idiosyncrasies that scream “NEBRASKA SUMMER” throughout this movie had me feeling some type of way about my own childhood memories especially every time dusk would roll around & streetlights started turning on down streets

Bernier exhibits the sultry air of hot summer nights and a desire to be outside soaking it up no matter where you are. Be it at a party, cookout or swimming with friends, above all else it’s good to see. It’s a comforting feeling only locals would know, but to those who don’t they need to experience it. Bernier also has some long shots in certain scenes that looked great, but I wish it was done more frequently. Where Snack Shack fails in other areas is milking a joke too long. When AJ and Moose open the shack, they sell candy, soda and hot dogs. But then AJ gets the idea to write an obscene word on the hot dogs and charge 75 extra cents for them. Once the joke is brought up once it comes back many more times and by the end of the movie it loses its luster.

Snack Shack may have lost its charm after so many repeats but is still a fun teen comedy posing as a love letter to small-town Nebraska never seen on screen before. With Sherry and Labelle leading the way along with a strong script Rehmeier knew exactly what he wanted to do here and did just that. The fun banter between Sherry and Labelle alone along with their quick reactions with each other let alone their costars is undeniable. I know these two are going places in Hollywood especially Labelle who can only go up from here.For Rehmeier though this was a statement made for himself as well as The Cornhusker State itself. I hope over time Hollywood starts seeing more of Nebraska than they’ve assumed ,and Snack Shack was definitely a step in right direction towards getting there.

Watch Snack Shack For Free On Gomovies.

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