Directed By: Rob Burnett
Starring: Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts, Selena Gomez
For Fans Of: Submarine, They Came Together, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
My Rating: 8 out of 10
I usually have a list of around 10 films that I have on my 'to watch' list at any time. There are those films that sit there for weeks, sometimes months on end, waiting for me to hit the play button and often I queue up that many films that I don’t know what most of them are about or what to expect and some of them, just by their name, get passed by when I see other films that interest me more. "Great story bro" you might be thinking, but I have to set up this review with this shite anecdote because this was one of those films that simply just sat there waiting and waiting and I just couldn’t get excited about. It's got a pretty long winded name for a kick off that sounds about as exciting as a trip to see Andy Murray perform stand up, it's got Selena Gomez in it (who I thought was more High School Musical than high class drama) and therefore you can forgive my lethargic attitude to getting round to watching it. I had no hopes for this at all, but low and behold I finally hit the play button and prepared myself to be numbed down by a fairly average, hardly funny drama. Not for the first time, I may have been wrong.
The story is about Ben (Paul Rudd) and his first job as a care worker for Trevor (Craig Roberts) who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which bounds him to a wheelchair and makes Trevor agoraphobic as well as alarmed at any change in his regular schedule. In true movie fashion though, despite these ailments, the pair decide to go on a road trip so that for once Trevor can live the life of a normal young man and to be overly critical this is probably the main flaw of the movie. Never once throughout this film do you ever feel that Trevor is that held back or pained by his illness and actually seems fairly healthy through out. Despite this Craig Roberts actually gives a great portrayal of Trevor, he has a unique feel to his acting, which for those of you who have seen him in earlier work such as “Submarine” really makes you warm to his character. He’s witty, charming and despite the fact the story seems to suggest he can get over his hardships with the click of his fingers, he gives a sincere enough display to paper over the obvious cracks in his script. It's early days in Roberts career but keep an eye on this guy because his performances so far have been effortless and brilliant.
You could, if you really wanted to, pick the story apart at times. However the script doesn't hold back fellow lead Paul Rudd either, who is fast becoming one of the most popular and likeable stars in the film industry at the moment. Showing his versatility by fitting into this drama as comfortably as he did his ant man suit. Rudd takes a character who should be filled with so much misery, dealing with issues of divorce and the loss of his own son and delivers a light to shine through the darkest of tunnels. Paul clearly has a talent for delivering comedic lines but his dramatic work was also top notch and it made the character very likeable.
Surprising me further was the character Dot played by Selena Gomez, perhaps I was overly critical of Selena as being just teenage crap fodder. Selena plays a no nonsense abrasive teen who warms to the nerdy Trevor and this brings about a rather heart warming love story into the mix as well. I have to say as well I thought her performance was great, the comedy didn't feel forced at all and the more sincere moments were delivered very well.
The film looks decent too, there are plenty of nice landscape shots as we follow the characters about on their voyage around America’s crap landmarks, though the cinematography is predictably kept quite simple as would be expected for a film straight to Netflix. Adding in some rather well fitting music at times also gives the film its upbeat feel and helps build atmosphere. The dark humour often hits the spot around all the more serious undertones this film alludes to and the story itself is playful enough around the heartache to really inspire and make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. So I feel credit must go to the director Rob Burnett. Rob has been around for years but is more well known for being part of David Letterman’s late night writing team than delivering his own movies. Here though, his adaptation of this story, based on the novel by Jonathan Evison, certainly seems to suggest at least one good thing came out of Dave’s retirement (I miss you Dave). But it's hard to tell who is really to blame for some of the plot flaws without reading the book it's based on. There is certainly enough good dialogue that you really don't care by the time you finish watching, so I’m willing to give Burnett the benefit of the doubt. All my early reservations for watching this film ebbed away effortlessly throughout and in the end I just about held on to my manliness and prevented the happy and sad tears streaming down my face, it was a close call let me assure you. I finished off jubilant, reflective but most of all, just plain delighted by what a great movie this was.
I really hope we get to see Rudd and Roberts in something again in the future as the chemistry was exceptional and I certainly won't be hastily reaching for the off button the next time I see a movie with Selena Gomez in it. You always hear annoying people say “Don’t judge a book by its cover” and often I think "thats a shit phrase" as maybe they should just not make shit book covers. In this case I will let them have it. It really is a crap title but it had all the fundamentals of a good movie and thats all that matters.