Starring Josh Duhamel, Dan Fogler,
What might look like another buddy road trip comedy couldn’t be farther from the truth when Scenic Route actually gets into the meat and bones. What struck me early on was that I can’t remember when two male characters cared enough about each other to argue about each others’ personal and professional lives enough to get violent over. Sure, these two characters throw insults left and right, but it becomes apparent later that they do truly care about one another in their own, violent way. Like most of the independent films debuting at SXSW, Scenic Route offers Josh Duhamel a chance to really act instead of standing around pretending to advance the plot based on his appearance (i.e. Transformers, Safe Haven).
“Why do you listen to the words you are putting in my mouth rather than the ones I am saying,” Mitchell (Duhamel) says to his best friend Carter (Fogler) while they are stranded in the Mojave Desert, 60 miles from nowhere. What was supposed to be an annual week long hang out turns into a desperate nightmare as their truck breaks down and they are without food or water in the hot desert days and freezing nights. Making matters worse, the two have beaten and pounded each other to a pulp over their differences in how each has led their lives. Their single hope depends on finding water or hoping someone drives by.
The cinematography is beautiful, using the landscapes and rising and setting sun to explore the desperate situation.
There is a really great analogy that correlates how many keys are on a man’s keychain to how much responsibility he has. Mitchell has a janitor style keychain while Carter has two single keys. “I can’t even get a haircut without thinking about the keys,” Mitchell confesses about his stagnate marriage and career. Carter gives Mitchell the Mohawk he always wanted, which ends up scaring one of the two cars that drive by. The cinematography is beautiful, using the landscapes and rising and setting sun to explore the desperate situation.
Brothers Kevin and Michael Goetz wrote and co-directed the film, which isn’t surprising since much of the interaction between these two grown men feels like brotherly tough love. There are some ironic and arguably ridiculous moments in the film, with a few scenes that should have leaned more towards the creative side than the stupid, but the film is not a comedy and this is only fully realized in the ending, which is one of the best endings so far of 2013. Scenic Route is a surprising and unique buddy drama that uses thrilling elements to sustain the audience.
Best ending I have seen in a while.