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The Hollywood Insider Mayberry Man Review

Photo: ‘Mayberry Man’

Based in Indiana, the Danville red carpet style premiere of ‘Mayberry Man,’ took place on September 23rd. The town is just as important as the stars of the movie, with a huge chunk of it being filmed in the hometown of ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’ A small budget and independent film, the movie is only out for a limited amount of time but it makes a lasting impact.

A sweet story about family, friends, and reconnecting with the things that matter, ‘Mayberry Man’ is the perfect fall family film.

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Who is the Mayberry Man?

Written almost like a rom-com or a Hallmark classic, ‘Mayberry Man,’ tells a story based on the 249 episodes of ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’ Griffith played Andy Taylor, a sheriff in the town of Mayberry that tried to outsmart criminals but was mostly a helping hand and inspiration for his neighbors and their daily troubles. 

Everybody loved Griffith’s down-to-earth nature and the Mayberry cast, the show ranking in the top 10 for all 60 years on television. It changed the lives of actors Don Knotts, Ron Howard, and Jim Nabors among many others who become beloved characters over time. 

History and Synopsis of ‘Mayberry Man’

So popular, the show also spawned a ton of Mayberry-themed festivals which led to ‘Mayberry Man.’ Stark and Cort Howell, brothers, decided to pitch the idea and crowdfund to make the movie. They were especially inspired by their father, Hoke Howell, who played a role in ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ throughout an illustrious 40-year acting career.

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The story revolves around a haughty film star, Chris Stone, who gets forced to spend a week at a Mayberry Fest. There, he is stripped of his fame and title, leading him to form human connections and discover himself through that. He falls in love, reconciles with his dad, and spends time with classic Mayberry characters like Barney and Floyd the Barber.

Those involved in the unique film experience said that it was a fun time and birthed many great memories. The Dove Foundation, a non-profit that approves films said that the movie is great for people of all ages and is, “ …a charming, homegrown film that not only showcases true community but features segments for all Andy Griffith fans.”

The Campbells’ Role in ‘Mayberry Man’ 

Jon and Connie Campbell were a random couple who landed themselves an iconic role in the film. For years they’d been taking trips up to the North Carolina shore, noticing new interstate exits Mount Airy and Pilot Mountain. Jon had recognized the name from his viewings of ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ as a kid. 

On a whim, the couple decided to visit Mount Airy and they fell in love, choosing to return for Mayberry Days every year. Campbell even found a tiny town in Mount Airy, with only 10,000 people and said it warmly reminded him of the Andy Taylor Mayberry he knew. Naturally, when he found out about the movie being filmed by the Hoke brothers, he was ecstatic.

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This compounded with the fact that the Hokes had been known to recruit fans of Mayberry Days, coordinated with Jon and Connie. Through an online audition, Jon was given a small speaking role alongside the lead actor, Brett Varvel as well as appearing as an extra in many other scenes alongside his wife. Most of these shots were filmed in Hollywood, Danville, Indians, and of course, Mount Airy. 

Long But Rewarding Process of Filming ‘Mayberry Man’ 

After the initial discussions and plans, it took two years to film ‘Mayberry Man.’ Despite its limited time in theaters, it’s being made accessible to the public through streaming platforms like Amazon Prime Video. 

Cort Howell, one of the producers, said that it’s officially releasing on the 23rd at a Creekside Cinema during the Mayberry Days for this year. But it’ll be showing up until the 26th and then will be available only online. 

They planned to do meet and greets for fans, as well as a Q&A session and even DVDs that they can buy. The Mayberry gang is such a big one they’re even selling shirts, hats, posters, and other merchandise at the theaters. 

“Mayberry Man will be available to rent or purchase on at least one major streaming platform that everyone is familiar with,” he said, and now we know that Howell struck a deal with Amazon Prime. 

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The Howell Brothers and Their Journey

The movie has since grown past the brothers and their first visit to Mount Airy. Stark Howell is an independent filmmaker and Hollywood storyboarder, who helped write and direct this film. His brother, Cort Howell, is fulfilling the executive producer role as well as being the spokesperson for the entire project. Stark Howell credited all the inspiration for the film from that iconic first visit to Mount Airy and the Mayberry Days festival where now his movie is being shown. 

“I’ve always been a fan of the show, but I was shocked to discover the spirit of Mayberry still exists today within the tight-knit Mayberry fan community,” Howell had said when asked about the movie in 2019. “It’s the perfect setting to tell a modern-day, family-friendly story that expresses the virtues of the fictitious town of Mayberry that we all fell in love with so many years ago.”

The Howell brothers also wanted to credit Ronnie Schell and their other friends for their contribution to the film. Even original cast members from the show were featured, including Maggie Peterson Mancuso and Clint Howard. Lots of kids of the original cast members were included in the project as well, some notable ones being Karen Knotts, Dixie Griffith, and George Lindsay. Together they all worked hard to raise money, hire a cast and crew and make their Mayberry dreams come true. 

By Mireille Karadanaian

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