By Charity Apple
*Originally published on The Times News*
Star quarterback Billy “Smiley” Cain Jr. “gets it.”
At the young age of 18, he realizes that the Golden Rule — “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” — still applies.
Nicknamed “Smiley” for the brilliant smile he displays, even during the tough times, Cain is admired by teens and adults alike. He’s a shining star in the fictional community portrayed in Cornelius Muller Productions’ “Find A Way.”
Loosely based on the real-life story of Harry Cohen, Williams High School’s star quarterback who died in August 2011, from an accidental drug overdose of his grandmother’s prescription medicine, “Find A Way” is in the framework of faith-based films such as “Facing The Giants” and “Fireproof.” It is an inspirational film that shows how despite our good intentions, bad things do happen and it’s how we handle them that define us.
Written by Thorne Winter, Don Moore and Cornelius Muller, who knew Cohen and also serves as executive producer and stars in the film, the story was put in place before Cohen’s death. It shows, vividly, the anguish two parents (played by Elijah Chester and Jennifer Russoli) go through when their son dies. “Find A Way” focuses on three families — Smiley’s adopted family, the Medleys, the Whitfields and the Archers. All, like so many of us in our own lives, are dealing with issues — high-stress careers, divorce and peer pressure.
No matter what your background or spiritual beliefs, this film will show that no matter how peaceful you feel, things will happen in life to disrupt that feeling and you have to “find a way to get through it.”
At times, “Find A Way” is difficult to watch because there are moments, in all of our lives, where we have a knee-jerk reaction to a situation and realize that we made a terrible choice. One of the most striking scenes showed how the Whitfield family had no sooner walked in the door from church one Sunday morning than the fighting began and how their son, Nick, (Vonii Bristow) reacted to his parents’ bickering. No one wants their child to feel that way.
While Cranston Johnson gives an appealing performance as the charismatic “Smiley,” it is Charis Jeffers (Casey Archer) and Vonii Bristow who steal the show. Too often, films and TV shows portray teens more like adults, but as someone who works with teens on a regular basis, these young performers act and react the way teens do.
“Find A Way” is directed by Burgess Jenkins, a seasoned actor who has appeared in “Remember The Titans” and currently stars as Randy Roberts on ABC-TV’s hit show “Nashville.” His wife, actress Ashlee Payne, is featured in the film as well. A number of the actors in the film, including Muller, participate in Jenkins’ Carolina Actors Group in Winston-Salem. Dewayne Book provided the soundtrack and for residents here, it is a great look at familiar faces and places throughout Alamance County. It is being billed as a family oriented film; however, teens and young adults will probably get more from the story and the message, since it deals directly with them.
Don’t leave the theater before the credits roll, because footage from Harry Cohen’s final football game, as well as photos of him, are shown as a tribute.
“Find A Way” will be shown at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Monday; 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Jan. 25; 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Jan. 26 and 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Jan. 27 at the Paramount Theater, 128 E. Front St., Burlington. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the box office or by calling (336) 222-TIXS.