In director Valerie Weiss’ family comedy, Mixtape, the year is 1999 and Beverly ‘Bev’ Moody is a 7th Grade student who lives with her grandmother. Bev is a happy kid, but one who spends a great deal of time wondering what her deceased parents were like during their youth.
Then one day, Bev comes across an old mixtape that belonged to her mum and dad. The cassette was put together during the 1980s, and Bev believes the songs on the mixtape will give her a better understanding of who they were.
Keen to listen to the music, she attempts to play the cassette, only for the tape to become chewed up in her Walkman. This is a considerable blow, but Bev is not deterred, as she still has the sleeve, which includes a list of all the tracks on the cassette.
Determined to hear the songs, Bev sets out to hunt them down, looking to the likes of Napster, ‘Ask Jeeves’, and a bricks-and-mortar music store to find the records. Along the way, Bev makes some new friends who aid in her quest, and who might be able to get her that little bit closer to reconnecting with the parents she has lost.
Mixtape stars Gemma Brooke Allen, Audrey Hsieh, Olga Petsa, Julie Bowen, and Nick Thune. The movie is available to stream on Netflix from today, and is a delightful watch.
In today’s world, where pretty much every song ever written can be accessed at the touch of a button, it is easy to forget that at one point in time, that wasn’t the case. If you wanted to listen to a song, you needed to own a copy of it, and if you were a kid with limited funds your options were equally as limited.
Mixtape is a throwback to those times, and a reminder of how life once was. It is a fun little story, about friendship and music, all set to a backdrop of classic songs from the likes of The Kinks, Iggy Pop, and Roxy Music, amongst others.
Mixtape is easy to watch, includes some humour, and knows just how to pull at the right heartstrings. It is a family feature, so is ideal for all ages, but it works especially well for teens, even if they are far too young to have experienced pre-Millennium life.
Of course, I am old and so I remember this time well. I remember what it was like in the pre-Spotify, pre-YouTube days, and how songs tended to stay with you that little bit longer back then, and how they meant so much.
For this reason, I enjoyed being transported back in time with Mixtape. I liked being reminded what the world was like before the age of smart phones, and I equally enjoyed listening to some tracks from yesteryear – most of which are from the ‘70s and ‘80s.
But what kept me invested in Mixtape was the story and the general lightness of touch. Sure, it does deal with some emotions connected to bereavement and loss, but it handles everything very well without getting too heavy.
The casting is also strong, with Gemma Brooke Allen bringing a great deal of likeability to the lead role of Bev, and Audrey Hsieh and Olga Petsa offering good support as her friends. Rounding out the cast are Julie Bowen as Bev’s grandmother, and Nick Thune as slightly gruff, but good-natured music store owner, ‘Anti’.
Each cast member fits their part well, and brings something to the role. Thune in particular is suited for this film, becoming a key figure in Bev’s quest.
Overall, Mixtape is a sweet, completely untaxing and thoroughly pleasant picture. It tells a simple story, but one with a great deal of heart.
There are no bells and whistles here, and the budget presumably went on licensing all the songs for the movie, but it’s fun stuff nonetheless. If you’re after something that asks very little of you, and doesn’t wear out its 90-minute runtime, then Mixtape is your film.