Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Scenic Route

Ups and downs become predictable in desert-set survival film.

Aug 22, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1383648-Scenic_Route_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Death Valley is no place to heal strained friendships in Scenic Route, a two-hander whose performances aren't as well-matched as they might have been. Directors Kevin and Michael Goetz offer an audience-friendly embodiment of a scenario much like that of Gus Van Sant's Gerry, but the film is less harrowing than it intends to be and has limited commercial prospects.

When Izod-wearing Mitchell (Josh Duhamel) and his unemployed old pal Carter (Dan Fogler) break down on a seldom-traveled stretch of desert road, Carter initially treats it as an opportunity for a come-to-Jesus talk: Your wife has made you a yuppie drone, he suggests; you should go back to your cool girlfriend, start playing guitar again and be a jobless dreamer like me, so we can sit around having cool conversations all the time.

To Carter's surprise, this lecture and the circumstances of its delivery don't go over well. Mitchell has a thing or two to say about the way Carter lives his life, and the confrontation between the two looks set to end the friendship in the middle of nowhere. Fogler makes a less-than-ideal spokesman for the Bohemian ethos: It's easy to buy him as a good-timing underachiever, but not as a struggling novelist with something worthwhile to say. Duhamel, on the other hand, projects both self-awareness about life's compromises and a clear-eyed view of his critic's faults. There's little competition between the two, despite the fact that most of what Carter's saying is true.

Kyle Killen's screenplay soon becomes a transparently tit-for-tat scheme: The friends trade rants, retreat, trade apologies and repeat. Then one ill-considered comment leads to a fight whose violence—sufficient to leave one man at death's door—isn't credible for such good friends, no matter what has been said in the last few hours.

The movie becomes a survival tale and is more successful in its grueling, slightly crazed second half. The Goetzes do a better job capturing the terrain's physical extremes and the challenge of endurance than they do depicting a relationship, and while we're still treated to a couple of head-slapping decisions, we can no longer predict exactly where things are going. The conclusion they and Killen arrive at will remind viewers of the finale of a recent hit series, but the twist is reasonably satisfying given the stakes the film has created.
-The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Scenic Route

Ups and downs become predictable in desert-set survival film.

Aug 22, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1383648-Scenic_Route_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Death Valley is no place to heal strained friendships in Scenic Route, a two-hander whose performances aren't as well-matched as they might have been. Directors Kevin and Michael Goetz offer an audience-friendly embodiment of a scenario much like that of Gus Van Sant's Gerry, but the film is less harrowing than it intends to be and has limited commercial prospects.

When Izod-wearing Mitchell (Josh Duhamel) and his unemployed old pal Carter (Dan Fogler) break down on a seldom-traveled stretch of desert road, Carter initially treats it as an opportunity for a come-to-Jesus talk: Your wife has made you a yuppie drone, he suggests; you should go back to your cool girlfriend, start playing guitar again and be a jobless dreamer like me, so we can sit around having cool conversations all the time.

To Carter's surprise, this lecture and the circumstances of its delivery don't go over well. Mitchell has a thing or two to say about the way Carter lives his life, and the confrontation between the two looks set to end the friendship in the middle of nowhere. Fogler makes a less-than-ideal spokesman for the Bohemian ethos: It's easy to buy him as a good-timing underachiever, but not as a struggling novelist with something worthwhile to say. Duhamel, on the other hand, projects both self-awareness about life's compromises and a clear-eyed view of his critic's faults. There's little competition between the two, despite the fact that most of what Carter's saying is true.

Kyle Killen's screenplay soon becomes a transparently tit-for-tat scheme: The friends trade rants, retreat, trade apologies and repeat. Then one ill-considered comment leads to a fight whose violence—sufficient to leave one man at death's door—isn't credible for such good friends, no matter what has been said in the last few hours.

The movie becomes a survival tale and is more successful in its grueling, slightly crazed second half. The Goetzes do a better job capturing the terrain's physical extremes and the challenge of endurance than they do depicting a relationship, and while we're still treated to a couple of head-slapping decisions, we can no longer predict exactly where things are going. The conclusion they and Killen arrive at will remind viewers of the finale of a recent hit series, but the twist is reasonably satisfying given the stakes the film has created.
-The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Small Time
Film Review: Small Time

You might not buy a used car from the guys in Small Time, but you will enjoy the movie about their exploits, even their exploitations (of others). More »

Fading Gigolo
Film Review: Fading Gigolo

Some top screen talent gets lost in the silliness surrounding the amorous adventures of an unlikely gigolo and his even more unlikely pimp, with writer/director/actor John Turturro the shtupper “ho” co-starring with Woody Allen as the mercenary shtup-enabler. Yarmulkes off to Turturro’s brave but deeply ill-conceived comedic foray into Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidic community and other alien territory. More »

A Promise
Film Review: A Promise

Handsomely filmed but wan period romance. More »

Final Member
Film Review: The Final Member

Breezy documentary about the aging owner of a small Icelandic museum dedicated to penises and his quest for one last, coveted exhibit is a charmer, thanks to the warmth and sly sense of humor the protagonist brings to his unusual hobby. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Transcendence
Film Review: Transcendence

Johnny Depp is an idealistic researcher whose consciousness is uploaded into an artificial intelligence in this slick techno-thriller with delusions of seriousness from Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer. More »

Draft Day
Film Review: Draft Day

Pro football manager faces crises on the most important day of his career in a well-tooled vehicle for Kevin Costner. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here