Thursday, July 9, 2020

Movie with Abe: The Long Dumb Road

The Long Dumb Road
Directed by Hannah Fidell
Released November 9, 2018 (Netflix July 8, 2020)

Sometimes, the best road trips are unintentional. That’s usually the case with road movies, which find one character planning to go from one place to another and having an unexpected experience along the way. The people that they meet are often the most memorable part, and they can come to define the journey just as much as where they stop en route to their destination. Naturally, road trips serve as positive inspiration for comedy films, since there’s no end to the possibilities of just how wild and crazy time in a car driving across the country can get.

Nat (Tony Revolori) is leaving his hometown in Texas and driving his parents’ minivan to art school in California. When the trusted vehicle won’t start shortly into his drive, he is helped by an energetic mechanic named Richard (Jason Mantzoukas) who just been fired. Nat offers to take Richard to the nearest bus station but their time on the road lasts much longer than that as they get into considerable hijinks on what should be a simple and straightforward trip of several days, turning Nat into a whole new person thanks to Richard’s influence.

It would be totally acceptable to just let Mantzoukas talk for an hour and a half without having any plot to assist him, and he’s shown his comedic prowess in a supporting role in the 2015 Sundance hit “Sleeping with Other People” and in his recent guest appearance on “The Good Place.” Pairing him with Revolori, who played off Ralph Fiennes so well in “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” is a marvelous experiment, since it allows them to bicker frequently and create tremendous entertainment in the process. They’re a fantastic and very effective duo.

It’s hard to find a dull moment in this ninety-minute comedy, which is the first foray into that genre for Sundance alum and director Hannah Fidell. She wisely brings her star from “6 Years,” Taissa Farmiga, in for a supporting role as one of two sisters who meet the boys during their trip. She and Grace Gummer are superb, and Casey Wilson and Ron Livingston contribute in small parts as people from Richard’s past that he encounters on the trip. There are many laughs to be found in this very enjoyable comedy, which may not be arthouse cinema but still succeeds completely at being exactly what it means to be.


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