The death of a loved one can often be the most difficult period in someone’s life. Whether it’s a friend, family, or even a pet, everyone has at some point gone through loss in one way or another. But writer/director Danny LeGare’s feature film Spirit of Friendship conveys the belief that tragedy can transform into growth with the right support system.

When Billy’s (Jeremy London) two children express how the recent passing of their grandfather has affected them, the father divulges his own journey to comprehending loss. Reflecting on his youth, Billy (played by Carter Grassi) is grieving the death of his mother. With his rather apathetic father (Glen Nicholes Jr.) back home, he relies on his friends Mike (Luca Corticelli) and Jake (Dante Corticelli) for comfort as they search for means of recuperation. Heading to the cemetery, Billy brings with him one of his mom’s cherished belongings (an old crossword book), and a seance begins. However, when the seance concludes, a man named Leonard (Sal Rendino) appears near the boys. Striking up a conversation with Billy, Leonard quickly becomes his lifeline in handling uncertainty. On the flip side, Billy also begins connecting with Emma (Delaney Miclette), a girl he likes but is worried about where things might go. Uncertainties arise as Billy must navigate a new chapter in his life.

Spirit of Friendship does have flaws that can be a little hard to look by. The performances can feel underwhelming and given the film’s weighty themes, lack conviction as well. London’s and Rendino’s limited time on screen anchor the story from the get-go, but the young actors aren’t quite up to par. A lot of their delivery can feel stiff, with words and sentences mashing together unintellegibly. Details regarding the timeline of events also feels a little contradictory. Smartphones, modern cars, and even certain words used by characters are very much 21st century, detracting from the feature’s nostalgic vibes.

The film radiates a positive, upbeat outlook on life despite its heavy thematic material. Regardless of the dark topics it explores, it’s well-intentioned and could even serve as a springboard for family conversations about moving forward with loss. LeGare’s direction is sharp as he and DP Tyler Saari pull out all the stops to make Spirit of Friendship feel vibrant and alive. Whenever the group of neighborhood kids hop on their bikes, the film genuinely feels like a throwback to old neighborhood adventure flicks. There’s just something special about those little suburban houses and communities.

Spirit of Friendship might struggle in the acting department, but it doesn’t skimp on the message. Its tagline, “laughter mends, friendship heals,” rings true throughout and is an easy message to rally behind.