5 Hour Friends
Timothy Bonner (Tom Sizemore), a divorced pro golfer, doesn't mind leading a hedonistic lifestyle. He's addicted to booze and women. On top of that, he owes alimony to his ex-wife, tuition to his illegitimate son and must come up with half a million dollars or else his ad company will be gone. When he's not drinking or hooking up with women, he's playing a sport that he's quite passionate about: golf. Will his new girlfriend, Carla Bianchi (Kimberlin Brown), help to set Timothy's life on the right track or at least make him see look at his life in a whole new perspective?
5 Hour Friends isn't fundamentally about golf, although its protagonist is a professional golf player; at it's core, it's about a lonely middle-aged man with addiction problems. Timothy has a lot of growing up to do, and he's in for a rude awakening. The screenplay by Ron Jackson could have gone deeper and darker, though, instead of taking a rather contrived route and skimming the surface of Timothy's problems. Yes, it's quite refreshing to watch a movie that's character driven and has a complete character arc, but the way that the character evolves doesn't feel particularly organic enough. A character doesn't have to be likable or relatable for that matter as long as he/she is believable within the context of the film. When Timothy has his epiphanies later in the film, you might find it difficult to believe that he's truly changed innately given that he's exhibited many signs of narcissism. He needs therapy, AA meetings and perhaps even an intervention from his friends/family. Maybe there was something in Timothy's childhood, i.e. bad parenting, that led him to such a lifestyle---it's not particularly clear what the root of his problems actually is.
On a positive note, 5 Hour Friends looks very well-shot and edited without feeling clunky or going off on distracting tangents. The running time of 97 minutes shows that director Theo Davies has some discipline as a first-time feature film director; if it were 2 hours or longer, i.e. The Wolf of Wall Street, it would surely overstay its welcome. Tom Sizemore gives a decent performance, and it's great to see him tackle a somewhat meaty role with conviction, even during the scenes that require the protagonist to be more sensitive and vulnerable.
The Raid 2
The Raid 2
Road to the Open
Jerry McDonald (Troy McKay) has yet to overcome the loss of his beloved wife. He raises his daughter (Kasee McDonald) all by himself and often feels dejected. Miles Worth (Phillip DeVona), his good friend, persuades him to be his doubles partner at a local tennis tournament that would give him the opportunity to compete in a national tournament, the Open. If they make it to the Open, they'd have to face Tim and Rob Gollant (Eric Roberts and John Schneider), a doubles team who haven't been defeated yet for the past decade. Miles has troubles of his own, namely, anger issues, which he seeks help for by going to anger management group sessions with a therapist (Judd Nelson).
Writer/director Cole Claassen takes a formulaic, seemingly simple underdog story and infuses it with pure, unadulterated warmth, charm, humor, and underlying complexity throughout. In no way does it become preachy, melodramatic, convoluted or over-the-top---nor will you feel like you're losing any brain cells while watching it. Troy McKay is perfectly cast and handles his role as Jerry quite convincingly. This also might be the first American film in quite some time that has character who are easy to like and who don't get on your nerves. You'll find yourself rooting for Jerry from start to finish; he may be flawed, but that makes him all the more human and relatable. The tennis tournaments can be seen as a metaphor for any kind of trials and tests that one goes through in life to redeem oneself. It takes a lot of inner strength to rise above and overcome hardships without giving up, so that makes the lessons learned here all the more powerful and vital.
The family-friendly Road to the Open is the kind of film that Hollywood rarely makes anymore: character-driven, warm, charming, human, genuinely uplifting and inspirational.
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