In the movie Ennis Esmer stars as Leonard Crane, the editor of the Grand Rock Weekly Ledger, a small town newspaper on the verge of bankruptcy. With no real local news to draw from Leonard turns to the town’s video store for inspiration. In the hope of pumping up circulation and advertising revenues, he fabricates a series of wild “news” stories based on the plots of old movies.
His desperate measure almost works as readers return to the paper, but, as Brian Williams recently found out, when you make stuff up eventually you’re going to get busted. Before you can yell, “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” his comeuppance comes in the form of Lucy (Meredith MacNeill), a reporter from the city who threatens to expose Leonard’s duplicity… until she discovers that one of the ridiculous stories just might be true.
“Big News at Grand Rock” generates laughs—Esmer earns his pays with an easy charm and Shawn Ashmore is laugh out loud funny as the video store clerk—but tackles a very important topic, the slow dismantling of local newspapers. With small papers biting the dust everyday—the movie was shot in Midland, Ontario, whose newspaper shuttered just weeks before the shoot—access to local news drying up or changing in such a way that you’re not going to be able to recognize it in a few years. “Big News” wants you to think about your local voice disappearing but doesn’t beat you over the head with its message.
Keeping things light are Leah Pinsent as the Grand Rock’s mayor, Peter Keleghan as a dimwitted reporter employed by the paper’s embattled publisher played by Canadian icon Gordon Pinsent.
Story wise “Big News at Grand Rock” errs on the side of predictability but a winning cast and a timely message make it headline worthy.