Man it feels like I had to wait ages to see this movie, after reading about it a year or so ago only to see it never come out near Boston. It finally hit Netflix, and boy am I glad it did, since it was really enjoyable! Writer/director Martin Hynes crafts an engaging road movie with lots of interesting characters and a beautiful blossoming central romance. On a seeming whim, 19-year-old high school senior Mercer (Lou Taylor Pucci) decides to steal a car and embark on a multi-state trip to find his long-lost half brother Arlen (Jsu Garcia), so he can tell them their mother died. Soon the car’s owner (Zooey Deschanel) contacts him through the phone she left in the car. She knows who he is but seems content to let him keep the car until his journey is completed, as long as he keeps her updated on his experiences. Mercer hasn’t seen his brother since he was 5 (they’re about 20 years apart), so he has very outdated information on his whereabouts. He follows a trail from house to house and city to city, usually finding out Arlen did something illegal and was forced to leave. He meets up with childhood crush Joely (Jena Malone), who joins him for part of trip with the promise of taking his virginity amidst wild nights in Reno. More about Mercer’s character and that of the car’s owner is revealed throughout the film, often through their own increasingly personal conversations. It’s fairly standard developmentally, but like most road movies, the way everybody gets there is the important part.
This was a pretty good movie, I thought. I liked Lou Taylor Pucci very much- Mercer is flawed and naive but still endearing and clearly good at heart. Zooey Deschanel is amazing in anything, and I dug seeing Jena Malone as a sexy temptress (as opposed to the more victim/girl-with-a-problem roles she has done in past). Judy Greer and Maura Tierney had fun cameos. I immediately fell for the relationship between Mercer and the car owner, which was an important part of the film but could have been more of a focus. I like the format of road movies in general- the kooky, one-scene-each characters, the dumpy motels, the personal growth and forced friendships. It’s something I don’t really tire of. The Go-Getter sticks to the formula but manages to be engaging, funny, and novel. There were some interesting visuals- especially Mercer and the car owner’s conversations- and though I’ve read some criticism of the hand-held camera work, I didn’t really notice it. A really cool thing about this movie is that because M. Ward did the soundtrack, he did a song for it with Zooey Deschanel, effectively forming She & Him.