Around the Bend Movie Review
A movie that came and went from theaters without a whimper, or a promotional campaign for that matter, "Around the Bend" stars Josh Lucas and Christopher Walken in a family dramedy that never quite attains what first time director Jordan Roberts was intending.
Though "Around the Bend" does miss the bull's-eye, it offers up some harmless entertainment and a short running time that barely makes it to 80 minutes. Most surprising is the fact that Warner Brothers didn't try to make more money off of this baby; even though it isn't anything special, it features two of the finest actors on the planet, Walken and Michael Caine. Those two guys alone should be able to rake in more box office than the pathetic $200,000 this one made. Hell, Josh Lucas alone should be able to pull in a couple million. The little boy should have drawn in more than $200,000! Promotion! Promotion! Promotion!
Anyway, "Around the Bend" is now out on DVD, and even though it has some pretty good special features, no one's going to buy or rent it because no one's heard about it, and it's too ordinary to ever get talked about. This is one of those movies you'll watch and then forget about it the next morning.
Specifically, "Around the Bend" is about three generations of a family who are brought together when the eldest (Caine) bites the bullet (I don't mean that literally. I mean he dies). Before he died, however, he devises a plan to keep the disjointed family together a bit longer by sending them on a road trip to various KFC's around the country. If that's product placement I don't know what is, but it's nice to see Caine's character trying to get his son off the addictive evil that is called vegetarianism. Anyway, some lighthearted family drama ensues as Lucas and Walken come head to head about their non-existent relationship, and some comedy happens as well.
All in all, it seems as though "Around the Bend" was supposed to be a comedy, as neither its plot nor script are serious enough to warrant otherwise. Director Roberts' commentary over the deleted scenes really suggests he has a deadpan sense of humor that might have blown completely over my head, for the movie definitely comes off as more of an uninteresting drama. What really hurt the movie in terms of marketability, however, is its "R" rating, which seems to be the result of the director's unwillingness to cut about three minutes from the movie. The problem with "Around the Bend" is that it has the plot and characters for a PG-rated movie, but due to just a few snippets of language and jokes, it gets pegged with the kiss of death. Honestly, if not for those couple moments this movie would work much better as a family film. And since it is basically a family film with an "R" rating, it won't appeal to anyone who is actually supposed to be able to watch "R" movies.
For the most part, the acting is pretty good, though there are no stand-out performances among the bunch. It would be nice to see Walken do some risky films for a change instead of safe dramas and comedies, and Lucas is also capable of more. The movie also looks very nice and is a good first step for Roberts, even if it isn't the magnificent leap forward he surely was hoping for.
Though no one will ever rent or buy the movie, the DVD does come with some nice little features, although "little" may be the wrong word to use. Aside from a director's commentary, the DVD includes several deleted scenes, all of which can be watched with or without commentary. More impressive is the hour-long documentary that follows Roberts, the cast and crew through the production of the movie. Film students and others interested in behind-the-scenes stuff should find this one very interesting and informative.
Still, "Around the Bend" isn't interesting enough to warrant a rental. It isn't a bad movie, but it just never figured out what it wanted to be. As a comedy, it just doesn't have enough jokes, and as a drama, it doesn't have enough drama.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.