Some stories have riveting action. Others have confounding enigmas. This one has heart.
Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal, twoYoutube stars, have documented their search for their first grade teacher, Lenora Locklear. They first met when she held them both in from recess and, as adults, they wanted to thank her for her impact on their lives. They made the decision to not use the phone or the internet in their search. Rhett says of their decision, “We’d rely only on face-to-face contact with people.” This choice changed the search in a dramatic way, as you’d imagine.
Instead of being able to “google” ‘Lenora Locklear’, they would have to go back to their roots at their primary school in Northern Carolina and start the search from there.
Having people guide them, instead of a computer, they experienced much, felt much, and uncovered much.
From their primary school, Rhett and Link’s search moves to Pembroke, Robeson county, where Locklear is a very strong family name, meaning a lot of Locklears! The Pembrook area has a large proportion of people who identify as Lumbee Indians. With a recollection that their teacher was Native American, Rhett and Link felt that by going there they would be on the right track to find her.
After a chat with a local store-man in Pembroke, they are put onto my special character of the film, Carnell Locklear, who knows many of that last name. Carnell is a man with a sad past and yet a positive outlook on life. With a litter of puppies (to give away) stowed in the back of his ute, Mr. Carnell Locklear happily agrees to assist Rhett and Link in their search. He takes them around the neighbourhood asking all the Locklears he knows of about a certain primary teacher.
As Rhett and Link started meeting people, they say, “…Something magical was happening. We were expanding our horizons and touching stranger’s jewellery.”
What captured my attention and affection about Carnell was his joyful approach to life despite his history of tragedy. I won’t spill the beans on all his story, but in past life he lost someone close and that altered the trajectory of his life. However, his hope abounds in God, and he hasn’t let the pain or regret weigh down his life.
My thoughts on this documentary are that we might never have met this man without the interesting constraints the directors put on their search for Ms. Locklear. It seems like a point can be made about the quick fix of social media and search engines and how one can miss out on real friendship because of them. Rhett and Link certainly made good friends with Carnell that day.
Without success in their using-puppies-as-bait-to-find-teacher efforts, Carnell points out that someone at an upcoming event known as ‘Lumbee Days’ could know Lenora Locklear. While at the event, Rhett and Link interview the hopefuls of the ‘Mr. Lumbee Pageant (or Contest!)’, a fight for fame and bragging rights. Hilarity ensues with four young men compete for the prized title of ‘Mr. Lumbee’. In their time there, Rhett and Link discover a struggle taking place for federal recognition for the Lumbee Indians as Native Americans. This struggle is highlighted almost every year when a delegation from the Lumbee Indians appeal to a senate committee in Washington D.C. Their desire is to have a bill to be passed for full federal recognition for their tribe. Rhett and Link’s search coincides with the delegation’s latest visit to the capital city, and seeing an opportunity in filming something special, they tag along.
The long 120 or so years of waiting doesn’t seem to daunt the people as they make their case, and it’s a reminder that if someone is determined and persistent enough, people might eventually listen to them.
As we follow both Rhett and Link’s search and the stories of the people they meet in this documentary, one can appreciate the value of people. Everyone is special and unique, each one has a story to tell and a dream to achieve. The point isn’t so much whether they find Ms. Locklear quickly or not, but that they go about it in a careful and understanding way. Rhett and Link pull that off quite nicely. You’ll also find that the outcome and the journey are joyously ordinary. The good old ordinary of life that surprises you with it’s peace and happiness. It’s the ordinary that makes for a good story and film.
Looking for Ms. Locklear has little to offend by way of crudity or sensuality and is a film I’d highly recommend to families who have young children. I give it 5/5 Headless Dragons for quality film-making! Check out Rhett and Link’s website of wonder.
Thanks for reading. God bless and ciao for now, Pedrozki.