Mitchell, Stan and Dixon navigate the purgatory between youth and adulthood when they reunite a few years after high school for the funeral of their friend Bender. Hijinks, heartbreak and beer-fueled bonhomie drive Matt Oates' sweet coming-of-age tale, which illuminates the importance of looking back while simultaneously looking ahead. On the precipice of grown-up responsibility, party animal Dixon (Josh Cooke) self-destructs too often, insecure Stan (Eddie Kaye Thomas) tries to attain the unattainable and successful Mitchell (Kip Pardue) wrestles with commitment and expectation. Being in their early 20s does not guarantee a vacation from reality, even in the loving arms of their small town, and they all try to reject the notion that their path has chosen them as they lurch into the great beyond known as maturity. Meanwhile, the deceased Bender seems to have it easy: no worries, no expectations, and no future to screw up. Before Mitchell, Stan and Dixon say goodbye to their pal, they will ponder the meaning of his life and theirs. Oates' debut feature takes place in familiar hangouts like the burger joint and the bowling alley, but 'Farewell Bender' shows that no place is a haven when one is uncomfortable in one's own skin. While high school is often about fitting in, this twenty-something trio is now faced with the riddle of how to stand out. Oates, who wrote the screenplay with Jeremiah Lowder at a similar juncture in his life, taps into the angst of a generation on the cusp of making its mark. Hunting rabbits while driving drunk is easy. Becoming a man is hard.
-- Tribeca Film Festival 2006 program -