Tag: road movie

Movie Review: The Go-Getter (2007)

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 Mercer hasn’t seen his brother since he was 5 (they’re about 20 years apart), so he has very outdated information on his whereabouts.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.


When I Get to the Border“- M. Ward featuring Zooey Deschanel

Movie Review: Im Juli (2000)

As I am learning the German language and will be studying there next semester, it follows that I am a pretty big fan of German culture, particularly its movies! There are a lot of great ones out there, old and new, but none that I’ve seen are straight-up comedies. Im Juli, a comedic road trip through Eastern Europe, broke that mold for me. Most of the film is a frame story in which hitchhiker Daniel (Moritz Bleibtreu) tells driver-with-dead-body-in-his-trunk Isa (Mehmet Kurtulus) about how he came to be abandoned in Bulgaria. Daniel is a fairly conservative high school Physics teacher, ready to spend the spring holiday week alone at his house in Hamburg. Adventurous Juli (Christiane Paul) has the hots for him and in a scheme to get his attention she ends up sending him into the arms of another woman, Melek (Idil √úner), who is leaving for Istanbul to meet someone under the bridge on Friday at noon. Propelled by his instant fascination with her, Daniel decides to drive to Istanbul and declare his love, accompanied by hitchhiking Juli (who coincidentally is also going to Istanbul, well whaddaya know). As they get to know each other, they feel both frustration and attraction. They go through many changes of vehicle, lots of lost funds, a couple of problematic border crossings, and get separated more than once. And of course, they meet a lot of ca-razy people! In the end, everything comes full-circle as Daniel, Juli, Isa, and Melek all cross paths and everyone decides to continue their wandering ways together! With Love and Friendship!

Because of his Turkish heritage, director Fatih Akin often incorporates German-Turk relation issues into his films. I like the multi-national aspect of Im Juli, with locations in Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey (they went through Romania as well but weren’t allowed to film there so it’s shown as a series of photographs). I also like how the movie can acknowledge its own silliness: while getting high for the first time, Daniel literally floats; in an attempt to apply science to a car stunt, he fails miserably. And of course, Akin’s passion for music shines throughout. Melek serenades beach campers with a Turkish ballad, Daniel and Juli croon “Blue Moon”, and there are a couple cool club scenes. It’s got pretty much everything you need for a good road movie, with pretty landscapes, near-death experiences, comedic side characters, lack of proper hygiene, and a focus on the development of a relationship. If you’re looking for a German movie that doesn’t relate to WWII, the DDR, or general unsolvable Problems, then you are in the right cinematic location!


Suicide Swing“- J*Let (best song in the movie, from a great club scene where Daniel is hallucinating)

Movie Review: Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

Well, it’s that time of year again! This Thursday was the customary day for getting drunk and watching Smokey and the Bandit with friends, an activity of which I partook for the first time ever. As always, this movie did not disappoint and did not provoke anything except a rollickin’ good time.

A filthy rich, matching-suited father and son approach the dozing Bandit (Burt Reynolds) with a daring proposition: drive to Texarcana, Texas, fetch 400 cases of Coors beer and transport it over county lines to Atlanta, Georgia, all in 28 hours. This is what’s known in 1977 as bootlegging, due to antiquated laws. The Bandit accepts this $80,000 bet and enlists his old truckin’ buddy Cledus “Snowman” Snow (Jerry Reed, who also did several songs for the soundtrack). Snowman drives the truck with the beer, while Bandit drives a black Pontiac Trans-Am at high speed to distract any cops away from the speeding truck. Enter Carrie aka “Frog” (Sally Field), a runaway bride fleeing a “wedding posse”, who hops in with The Bandit and both helps and hinders his scheme. Enter moments later Buford T Justice (Jackie Gleason), a Texas sheriff who goes way out of his jurisdiction to take down that elusive, smart alecky daredevil.

That is pretty much the entire plot, a fairly simple premise formatted to show off some high-speed, high-flying car stunts, slip in some wiseass dialogue, reflect on relationships forged out of necessity/fate in a thrilling situation, and, of course, have hilarious hi-jinks! There are some good shots of Sally Field’s butt (or possible butt-double), several occasions of Burt Reynolds’ high-pitched laughter, seriously amazing (and destructive!) stunts, and lots of smooth truckin’ lingo. It is a carefree, fast-paced time that’s always lots of fun! Watching it drunkenly with a group of friends just makes it funner!


East Bound and Down“- Jerry Reed (Smokey and the Bandit theme song)