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Homegrown: Phoenix, Oregon Rises Like a Well-Made Pizza Crust

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Kevin Corrigan in Phoenix, Oregon
Photo by Luiz Rodriguez

It’s not Hollywood, but it’s so Oregon, which is even better, right?

No car chases, nobody dies, and no guns. How awesome!

Phoenix, Oregon is a fun, low-key “Zen-of-making-pizza-pies” kind of movie with an unusual shoot-out of the bowling kind. This 108-minute flick about hope was produced by Gary and Anne Lundgren, who live in Ashland and write, produce and direct films together like Calvin Marshall.

For local Oregonians, Phoenix, Oregon sums up the Rogue Valley—misguided bosses and low-paying jobs, but also filled with extremely passionate people who still have hopes, dreams and inner foodies willing to stand their ground.

Bobby, played by James Le handles the role of a brooding, pessimistic middle-aged male annoyingly well. And like many of the same real life middle-agers, he has other interests and dreams covered up by his growing pile of life circumstances. It’s like when you are standing in line for coffee before you go to your unfulfilling job feeling stuck and then you catch a glimpse of your reflection in the glass pastry case and remember, “I used to be really good at…”

Instead of remaining settled in a life that underwhelms, Jesse Borrego (Carlos), Bobby’s lifelong “Bro,” nudges him toward a different possibility; one that reminds him of a younger version of himself, and which leads to new adventures and old demons (or aliens in this case) to confront. Borrego has many acting roles under his belt; most notably as Jesse Velasquez from the TV-show Fame. In this movie, he also inspires and demonstrates true friendship.  

Kyle (Diedrich Bader) and Al (Kevin Corrigan) provide comic relief in a battle of who can rile up Bobby the most and have middle-aged hair while doing it. You may remember Bader from Balls of Fury or Napoleon Dynamite. Corrigan made his film debut in 1989 in the film Lost Angels with Donald Sutherland. He has been in numerous independent films and is known for his over-the-top characters. Lisa Edelstein from “House” rounds out the cast with some pivotal decisions that twist the plot and make us hope that Bobby can get out of his own way.

When I asked Luis Rodriguez, producer along with Anne Lundgren, his thoughts on the making of the movie, he said: “Gary had a clear vision of this story of friendship and maintaining optimism is the midst of mid-life struggles. Cast, crew, and an entire community rallied behind him to make the vision come to life. We couldn’t be happier with film and know audiences will enjoy watching it.”

After a successful showing at the Ashland Independent Film Festival this year, it is time to release this hometown fun to the rest of the Rogue Valley. If you like Oregon and bowling, this movie is a strike. If not, well, check out the Lundgren’s other films like Redwood Highway or Black Road. To check out the release on May 17, visit the Varsity Box Office to reserve your tickets.


Phoenix, Oregon
Friday, May 17
Varsity Theatre, 166 E. Main Street, Ashland


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