Dir. Ryan O’Nan, USA, 2011, Dur 98 mins
Review by Carol Allen
Written, directed by and starring Ryan O’Nan, this could be seen either as a work of determination by an actor taking his fate into his own hands, or as an ego trip. What we see on screen is a somewhat meandering road movie, which has occasional moments of comic genius.
O’Nan plays Alex, an underachiever with musical ambitions stuck in a dead end job, who bumps into eccentric, self described “musical revolutionary” Jim (Weston), who plays children’s musical instruments and suggests they go on the road together as a musical duo. Which is what they do. The film is about the ups (few) and downs (plenty) of their journey. One of the pluses is Cassidy (Kebbel), who despite having no experience whatsoever, becomes their tour manager. Kebbel, her blonde hair streaked with magenta for this role, is a bright talent to watch. When she disappears from the film for a longish while, she is missed and her return is welcome. There’s also a likeable contribution from Andrew McCarthy in the latter part of the film as Alex’s conventional but caring older brother. Can this really be the cute boy from Pretty in Pink (1986), now approaching fifty?
Alex and Jim in the leads – the loser and the fantasist/talkoholic – are initially not very engaging. They come over as rather artificial characters led by the plot rather than creating their own story. Their songs too are, perhaps deliberately, unmemorable. But those touches of comic genius I mentioned earlier do help them to grow on us. Moments to watch out for include the story of Jimmy Johnson, a dog with very strange tastes and odd, vivid images, such as “like a nymphomaniac at a donkey show”, which in context are very funny.
This is not a great film but it is intermittently amusing. And it seems to have given Ryan O’Nan’s career a bit of a boost, in that he’s had good roles in over half a dozen movies since this one came out, including co-starring roles with Robert De Niro, Nicolas Cage and Winona Ryder.