Release Date: September 16th, 2005 (NYC) by Picturehouse.
The Cast: Paul Reiser, Peter Falk, Olympia Dukakis, Elizabeth Perkins.
Directed by Paul Reiser.
BASIC PREMISE: After his wife Muriel (Dukakis) goes missing, Sam (Falk) informs his son Ben (Reiser) and the two go on a road trip to re-unite with her.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The script wastes no time because, within the first few minutes, Sam already visits Ben in his apartment to tell him the bad news about Sam's mother, Muriel (Dukakis). It would have been more effective if Muriel had more scenes interacting with Sam. The rest of the film is a road trip with a few entertaining stops along the way. One stop is by a river so that they can go fishing. Nothing interesting or funny happens other than when Sam lets go of the big fish that he catches. Too many scenes seem contrived with forced humor. For example, when their car crashes against a tree, they survive the crash and then Ben sarcastically says to Sam that its the tree's fault. Later on, they meet an overly nice worker at a convenience store who gives them free tickets to a small-town baseball game. During this game, Sam stares at a hot young woman while his Viagra kicks in, so-to-speak. At another stop, he ends up in a bar fight. If only the dialogue weren't so schmaltzy and stilted, these scenes would be more believable. However, the script does not have enough surprises and tension other than a revealing letter written by Muriel that Ben found when he was a child but never gave it to Sam. Falk does a decent job trying to make Sam more complex than is written into the script: sometimes he is funny, angry, regretful, compassionate, and, most often, stubborn. Unfortunately, Reiser lacks Falk's quirky charm---his acting is just mediocre at best. On a positive note, the scenery is beautiful and picturesque as they drive down the road with all the colorful foliage all around them. If only the Sam and Ben were as lively and figuratively colorful.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: The concept of a father and son bonding is very interesting and touching, but not when the dialogue is weak. Nonetheless, it is essential to get to know your parents because they can teach you a lot of about yourself. Relationships take time to heal. It is somewhat satisfying to watch father and son become friends despite bickering and all of their regrets. Likewise, it is uplifting how Sam rekindles his love of his wife.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: This is the second week in a row that a movie with two male actors that bond while driving a car resorts to fart jokes for laughs. It is beyond unfunny: it is juvenile and very irritating. It truly reflects the weakness of script.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 3
THE BOTTOM LINE: A schmaltzy, talkative road movie with beautiful scenery but boring characters, a stilted, formulaic script. This is not what one would expect from a low-budget independent movie.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: VHS/DVD
The "T" Menu