Synopsis: Laura (Marguerite Moreau, Wet Hot American Summer) and Ted (David Sullivan, Primer, Argo) are enjoying a dysfunctional marriage in Boulder, Colorado: teaching at the university, drinking at the local tiki bar, and (barely) tolerating Laura’s odd family and odder would-be-suitor, Howl (Javier Muñoz, Hamilton). After a brief estrangement, they are now back together, determined to make their love work.
When Laura is killed in a car accident, Ted is paralyzed with grief. Unable to let her go, he carries her ashes under his arm and starts seeing her everywhere – which is impossible, right? Frustrated with Ted and aided by Howl, Laura’s family takes matters into their own hands by stealing Laura’s ashes, and heading to the family resting plot to say their goodbyes.
At the same time, Ted is suddenly face to face with Laura, or, more specifically, Laura’s ghost. She explains to Ted his mission: steal her ashes back, head east, and scatter them where they first fell in love, The Field Museum in Chicago. Ted takes back Laura’s ashes and steals Howl’s beloved red truck, heading out on a cross-country road trip with the family and Howl in hot pursuit.
Along their odyssey, Ted and Laura’s ghost encounter characters that seduce, annoy, hurt, and sidetrack Ted from his mission. There’s Amber (Shunori Ramanathan, The Big Sick), the lonely and mysterious seductress; a trio of singing wood-nymphs; a directionless car mechanic (David Pasquesi, Veep); the only security guard at The Field Museum who matters (Joel Murray, Mad Men); and Laura’s pink-haired bratty little sister, Crystal (Paulina Olszynski, My Soul To Take).
When Ted arrives in Chicago, he is intercepted by Howl. Not to be deterred, Ted dodges Howl with a little bit of luck, leaving Howl hospitalized and angrier than ever. Victorious, Ted is finally ready to let Laura go, and her ghost is ready to be released.
In their last moments together, Ted realizes that Laura’s spirit doesn’t need grand gestures, or big moments to be at rest, and he doesn’t need a monument to let her go. Thus, Ted begins his journey back to Colorado, returning Howl and the truck in the process, and scattering Laura’s ashes in a place that truly felt like home.
David Sullivan (Ted)
Javier Muñoz (Howl)
Shunori Ramanathan (Amber)
Joel Murray (Steven Lesca)
It’s a modern telling of The Odyssey — a story of a man trying to get home to his wife. In our film, home isn’t a place — it’s a feeling. Pursued by his in-laws, Ted races to return his wife Laura’s ashes to where they were happiest together: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Ted’s journey takes him over the Rocky Mountains, past the Great Plains, and on to the galleries of The Met. It’s a road movie that uses magical realism to depict ancient monsters, witches, and Gods as angry in-laws, mysterious travelers, and forgotten roadside attractions.
MONUMENTS is a story about triumphing over tragedy, using comedy as a way to talk about death, grief, and legacy. I believe comedy can create an intimate relationship between the audience and the characters, allowing us to go deeper and create a film that sticks with you.
The film is about a couple coming to terms with a changing relationship (even after one of them dies). Our hero is able to defeat the monsters in his path, to make it back to his wife’s side.
—Jack C. Newell, Director
Jack C. Newell is a writer, director, producer, actor, and public artist. He is the co-creator of Destroy Your Art, and the co-creator of the public art project, The Wabash Lights.
His feature film credits include 42 Grams, Open Tables, Hope Springs Eternal, and the upcoming quirky-comedy, Monuments – as well as the not-quite-as funny How to Build a School in Haiti – which is a ten-year exploration of a single aid project. The films have been featured at the Austin Film Festival, Sidewalk Film Festival, Bend Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, and on Netflix, Amazon, and IMDbTV. His commercials have screened on Tube, Flat, LCD, and 3D TVS, as well as “the internet.”
Jack’s work is grounded, with great performances, and is almost always intentionally funny.