I’m not in the mood to write a traditional review so let me tell you a story instead.
A few days ago I got a package in the mail. I knew it was a screener and was excited. Who wouldn’t be excited about a free movie or free stuff in general? I cut open the package and, hate to say it, but my excitement fell a little bit. It was a DVD of some movie called Scenic Route, available now on DVD.
I’m not trying to be ungrateful about something I didn’t even pay for, but I could hardly even remember pitching a review for this particular film. After examining the details for a few moments, I decided this was like a Band-Aid. Better get it done quick and easy and move on. I immediately popped it in the DVD player. I figured if I was going to lose 90 minutes of my life, I’d better just do it right off the bat rather than delaying the inevitable.
As the TV turned on and some previews for terrible movies aired, I looked at the case for the movie. It boasted the film starred Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler. I thought to myself: is that really something to boast about? One of them coasted through some movies about giant toys and the other has just been in a collection of unfunny movies. Then I saw the names of the directors: The Goetz Brothers. I hadn’t heard of them and I usually try not to pass judgement on people I don’t know, but damn … these guys sounded like they should be directing adult films in the basements of Russian techno clubs.
The plot even sounded bad for this flick. It’s about two friends that have grown apart taking a road trip together. They break down in the middle of nowhere and begin to muse about their lives and go crazy with no other life around. Sounds like a pretentious student film.
I dropped the case and hit play. I was ready to hate this one. Oh man, was I ready. I sat there staring at the screen wanting to hate the movie and just looking for any excuse for probably the first thirty minutes, but something happened. The movie turned out to be unique and different and I just got sucked into it.
Despite the plot opening itself up for opportunity to be highly pretentious or even preachy, I found myself absorbed by these two characters and their conversations. I remember thinking to myself, “damn these weird ass Goetz guys can write.” Come to find out, the script was actually written by the great Kyle Killen (he’s behind television shows like Lone Star and Awake).
Not only was the writing exceptional and intriguing, but the performances held together. I didn’t expect much from these actors but they create something really special here as they are the only two in almost every scene. Both Duhamel and Fogler stretch themselves and completely carry these characters. This could have felt like an actors’ movie where we felt both performers trying, trying, trying to give that “award performance,” but these guys were above that and did some exceptional work.
I even have to give credit to these Goetz guys. Scenic Route stands out because it is juggling a lot of themes and has a lot of turns, but the Goetz Brothers make it all feel smooth. The movie goes from dramatic to comedic to violent in the blink of an eye, and the transitions were always smooth and never forced. This is a special film because it could have been awful and yet everyone involved is only interested in trying to do something unique and different, and damn do they.
After the end credits began rolling, I just sort of sat there on my couch. I didn’t move for a few minutes and just thought about some of the themes and thoughts from the movie and the implications from the crazy ending. My girlfriend noticed me in deep thought and said, “what have you been up to?”
I looked over to reply to her and said, “I think I just watched a really good movie.”