Around the Bend (2004) Poster

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9/10
Prodigal Family
Jenn Brown18 October 2004
I picked up on AROUND THE BEND for the actors, in particular Josh Lucas, one of the underrated actors of his generation. With Michael Caine and Christopher Walken also in the cast, I was further intrigued. After catching it at the Austin Film Festival, I can't recommend this movie enough.

If you've ever had to make peace with a prodigal family member -particularly a parent- and a grandparent who manipulated matters make reconciliations- this story will resonate deeply.

Jason (Lucas) lives with his ailing grandfather Henry (Caine), and son Zach (Jonah Bobo), and a live nurse. When Jason's father, Turner (Walken) suddenly shows up, we instantly learn of abandonment and a lot left unsaid. Henry insists on a road trip, and everyone declines; Henry settles the matter by dying just after planning it with the help of Zach.

Using Kentucky Fried Chicken as a metaphor for plastic living, the three survivors start out on a journey of discovery and ash-spreading. The expected dark secret and bonding occurs, but it's a journey worth exploring with these three.

The cast is excellent, and have great chemistry; the only shame is that due to the storyline, Caine had so little time on screen. Bobo is absolutely amazing as young Zach; he gets as much done with a glance and a head move that veteran actors hope to accomplish; this kid is someone to watch for in the future. The soundtrack is outstanding, relying on 8 track music which really sets the mood without ever overwhelming, and only a few original piano based pieces by David Baerwald. All in all, story and structure it's a well made film.

This is not a male chick flick. It's about family, and reconciliation, even when someone isn't perfect. Writer/Director Jordan Roberts was inspired by his own father/son story when writing this.

AROUND THE BEND has a good balance between humor and heart, and more than worth your consideration.
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10/10
Explores family relationships w/great depth and sensitivity.
Christopher Walken and Josh Lucas are incredibly believable in their rich portrayals of a father and son who have been apart for many years and brought together by an eccentric grandfather's wish for a family reunion and an emotional scavenger hunt. Newcomer, Jonah Bobo is superbly natural in his role as Zack. The story is heart-warming and heart-wrenching at the same time, reminding us that while we don't choose our families, we can choose to love and accept them in spite of the damage we do to each other. We can indeed learn from the mistakes of those who go before us and pass on the best of the previous generation leaving our mark on the next generation.

This was a great movie, with a great soundtrack - a real father-son coming of age story without any saccharine!
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Beautifully told story
thecomputersaysno28 April 2005
Extremely touching road movie around four generations of males whose relationships have become fractured in the past.

It's not made completely clear at the start, but Michael Caine is the great grandfather, Christopher Walken is the grandfather, Josh Lucas the father and the charming Jonah Bobo as the grandson. The family are reunited and Caine's character tasks them with a request in his will that his ashes be scattered near his favourite fast food restaurants throughout picturesque New Mexico (bizarre product placement).

Walken had disappeared from the family unit, with some resentment from all, and returns to the family and finds himself agreeing to fulfil his father's wishes. Throughout the journey, the family bonds are re-established and a gradual understanding of the characters grows and their past revealed.

This is a beautiful story, told at a gentle but entrancing pace, is truly moving and I recommend it highly. It's not very long, but within Walken is given great time and space to truly demonstrate his talents.
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8/10
Loved it
joekea14 May 2006
I found this in a video store and with the great cast (not always a good indicator!) and the list of awards won I took a chance on it being good. As is often the case when you have little expectation you are most pleasantly surprised. I thought the characters were wonderful the setting and photography beautiful and the soundtrack really made it. There are also nice little touches where an item seen in a passing shot has a connection to something later in the film.

The only weakness I felt was Josh Lucas in the role of the child's father. It was hard to make any genetic connection with the characters played by Michael Caine or Christopher Walken. It's not that his acting was poor he just didn't seem to fit in. Please try and see the movie - I doubt that you'll be disappointed.
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10/10
One of the best movies ever
amarigautreau10 October 2005
This is a wonderful movie, beautifully acted by Christopher Walken, Michael Caine and Josh Lucas...it's funny, droll, touching....a great character study. I don't know why it didn't get more notice. I've always thought Christopher Walken was a fine actor...this movie made me see him as brilliant. I truly loved it. The story is based on the relationships of 4 generations of men in one family; from the grandfather - Michael Caine - to the six-year-old son of Josh Lucas.This is the story of so many families and my favorite line is Michael Caine's to his grandson, Josh Lucas, about Josh's 'broken' father, Christopher Walken: "I carried you, you carried me, we need to carry him." It's what families do. I loved that.
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10/10
Perfect gem of a film...
scotforever21 September 2004
I absolutely loved this film, it is everything that a film can be. the only minor flaw, which was un-noticeable to the friend that i saw it with, was Michael Caine's accent drifting across the Atlantic. But you didn't really care.

It is perfectly cast, brilliantly acted, and you believed in and cared for the characters, they are so human with their natural flaws, you are rooting for them all.

The story is fascinating, and it will strike a chord with anyone with a father, particularly anyone estranged from their father. It is funny, witty, charming, touching and delightful.

See it with a loved one...you shouldn't regret it.
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9/10
Mindblowing surprise
Tubular_Bell29 May 2006
I can't give this movie a perfect score, which I reserve for classic, Earth-shattering movies that may truly change one's ways of watching movies. But I give this a high nine, and as it stands, this is one of the very, very few movies that I could watch dozens of times more without ever feeling tired, and wanting more. This is a gripping, fearless movie that instead of drenching itself with tears and syrup, it grips you and plays with your feelings as if it owned you. You'll have to be willing to be taken over, of course, but once you do, you're in for a ride.

Honestly, I find it a bit banal to label this as a "road movie". To me, it's a genuinely comical family drama. I had great laughs with this movie, the way it was written and directed, and with the actors' performances, but especially because it wasn't aching to be a comedy. Nothing here looked contrived and forced, and none of the events, no matter how unexpected, felt like it didn't belong there. And we're talking about one interesting plot here. I suppose you can find a good synopsis of the movie elsewhere, so I'd rather settle on the review proper here, instead of giving details of how the movie goes. Suffice to say, it's a powerful story, intelligently written, cleverly paced, directed and acted with talent and care. You see, most times I demand a film to have content, something interesting to say, which this movie certainly has. But I was also delighted and entertaining by the way the movie was told. Being this Jordan Roberts's first effort, I think it's a particularly impressive one.

As for the actors, you must know them by heart, and if you're a fan of any of them, you won't be disappointed. Yes, Caine's present in only a fifth of the movie's length, but it's a memorable performance alright. Christopher Walken is the main force in the movie, and I really enjoyed his performance and his character, Turner. Lots of fun. Josh Lucas's character, Jason, isn't as immediately striking, but he's quite intricate, and the performance here is just spot on. And of course, the big focus isn't on either of them exclusively, but on their relationship. I just wasn't expecting to be so utterly amazed by Jonah Bobo, though! I was already familiar with his work on the children's cartoon The Backyardigans, doing the voice of my favourite character, no less. But to me, at least, he stole the scene almost every time; even when he didn't say a thing, for he could show only with his facial expressions, his movements and everything else, his character and what he was going through, in particular how curious he was about Turner and how attuned he was getting to him, and vice versa. It's worthy to mention how, in the "making of" documentary, we see he's a playful, intelligent and happy kid, and that he can switch into another kid entirely, wholly absorbed by the movie, with so much ease. I can't say the movie couldn't possibly be anywhere below "okay" with Jonah in it, and yes, I'm aware Caine and Walken are in it too. But the movie isn't just about that. It's much more. And if people can give up their resistance and make themselves ready for a thrilling, shameless emotional ride, this is a movie I can recommend. It's short, yes, but if you feel it's too short, just watch it again.
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10/10
If this is the last movie you ever see, than let it be this one.
dana116 October 2004
Wrong . . .Wrong . . .Wrong!!!! Anyone who is reading the less than perfect reviews and makes a decision to not see this film is making a very big mistake. We all know how political the economics of film reviews are and this movie proves it. I am a 40 year old male who sees this as a "mans" movie. This is about the issues that all sons have with their fathers to one degree or another; and it has a great plot with as much humor in it as it does have the seriousness of male issues and bonding. Come on guys, you all know what I am talking about. So for all those who call this a chick flick, your wrong too! Both men and women will definitely leave this film with a big smile on their faces and will agree with me that the admittance ticket was worth every penny!
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Tradition and Family Forgiveness
FoxieLayd26 October 2004
This movie was definitely true to life. It made you laugh, it made you cry and it made you think. And wow, what a cast. Michael Caine, Christopher Walken, Josh Lucas and little Jonah Bobo (I see great things from this youngster in the future).

You can see the indifference right way when Jason (Lucas) calls his grandfather (Caine) and his estranged father (Walken) by their first names. Grandfather Henry's joy with the return of his son Turner and the family together again is short lived when his son announces he's only staying the night. Determined to bring the family back together, he plans a 'burial' trip that all family members, his son; his grandson and his great-grandson, must partake in as terms of his will. This is where the road to discovery begins.

If anyone has had family situations that need to be rectified in order to bring the family back together, this film will most assuredly put the spark in your heart to do so.
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10/10
Possibly prejudiced, but passionately pro
dbaerwald10 October 2004
I was the composer on this film, and while I recognise that that fact may taint me as blindly partisan on its behalf, I still have to say that

A) I have never seen audiences respond with such obvious affection and warmth towards anything that I've ever worked on, (even including my terminally unemotional engineer, who actually cried, something I never expected in a million years that I would ever see, and doubt that I will again. )

and B)... Just give it a chance. If you hate it, so you blew 20 bucks and a couple hours. feel free to send me a nasty email, and if you make a convincing enough case, maybe i'll personally refund your 20. I doubt I'll have to. This is a wonderful film, made by the kind of person and for the kinds of reasons that we all need to support, if we care at all about what we do, and how it affects people. And I mean people, not industry professionals. See it with a civilian audience, as a human being, and you will be rewarded. This is a splendid movie, and Walken is stunning, and this is one where you just have to take the big city critics with a grain of salt. This movie was not made for them. It wasn't made for professional opinion makers. It was made for you. And yes, I may be prejudiced, but I don't think so.

David Baerwald
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9/10
Delightful surprise
Frank Hankey16 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Picked this up on a whim because of the cast, had to be offbeat with Walken and Caine in the same film. Quite an absorbing story. I was quite surprised by the critical reaction, particularly observations about it's "sentimentality". One of the things I liked best about it was its refusal to wallow in sentiment. The father-son relationship has a satisfying culmination, but we're not asked to forgive and forget or feel warm and mushy.

Some of Walken's best work, unapologetic and complex. Some great character performances. The quirkiness worked well for me. It's like the central character was born on the other side of the looking glass, trying to find normalcy when there doesn't seem to be any to be found. Loved the music, particularly the use of Leon Russell and Dylan. Highly recommended rental, including some rather interesting "deleted scenes".
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7/10
The first twenty minutes are great, the rest is just okay
dbborroughs25 April 2005
I can not recommend the first twenty minutes of this film enough. These are the 20 minutes containing some of the best work by Christopher Walken and Michael Caine, or perhaps any film actors in history. Everything about the beginning of this movie leads one to believe that this is going to be a great family drama/comedy. Unfortunately the film takes an odd turn and becomes a road film thats nowhere near as tight and focused as the start. Esssentially this is the story of fathers and sons and crimes unforgiven. The idea of the road trip is to put the skeletons to rest and to bring peace and closure to a very wounded family. The cast of this film that makes up the four male generations of this broken family is excellent. They make a real go at making what happens believable, even though once the VW micro-bus hits the road it falls apart with plot holes and inconsistency. Its never bad, but its never what the first part of this film promised. Still its worth renting or seeing on cable for two of the greatest performances I've ever seen.
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6/10
A lukewarm misfire for sentimentalists
George Parker9 March 2005
"Around the Bend" tells of a father (Walken) and son (Lucas) whose lives cross after 30 years apart as the death of their patriarch (Caine) draws near. The body of the film is a road trip which they take, leaping from one Kentucky Coronel Fried Chicken restaurant to another, following the quirky instructions of the dearly departed whose cremated remains are scattered one spoonful at a time as the long estranged men seek reconciliation of old regrets. "Around the Bend" has some worthy sentiment buried in a heap of inconsequential filler, a few poignant moments which break through the monotony of developing characters who are quirky for the sake of quirkiness, and some solid performances which almost overcome the everpresent snippets of corny C&W music. Those who don't mind paper thin plots, many contrived moments, drama diluted with overtones of silliness, and lots of filler may be able to buy into the bittersweet stop and go story. Others will be sorely disappointed to see good performances and camera work wasted on such a flimsy story. (C+)
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8/10
Christopher Walken at his best
imdb-30228 January 2006
Two legendary actors and two young talents represent four generations in a quirky story worthy of their performances. This movie must have been misplaced or mispromoted, because it seems to have come out of nowhere. It has humor, grace and heart, with smart dialog and extraordinary acting, particularly by Christopher Walken and (of course) Michael Caine. And it's got some great laughs, especially when Glenne Headly's around.

Probably the only thing wrong with this movie is its highly forgettable name. It deserves something more compelling to sum up its story.

If you like this, see "Last Orders," also with Michael Caine, which has a related premise.
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4/10
desperate to be quirky and poignant
SnoopyStyle21 August 2015
Jason Lair (Josh Lucas) is a single dad to Zach and living with his grandfather Henry (Michael Caine). Katrina (Glenne Headly) is their live-in maid. Then they are interrupted by the arrival of Jason's long absent dad Turner (Christopher Walken). When Jason was 2, he lost his mother in a crash and Turner disappeared into addiction. The sickly Henry is happy to see his son before he dies while Jason is bitter with his arrival. Henry and Zach is at the KFC where Henry type out elaborately planned notes as his will. He dies at the KFC and Jason is forced on a winding trip with his father as dictated by Henry.

This is so desperate to be quirky and poignant that it really achieves neither thing. I hated Glenne Headly's quirky undecipherable accent. I hate the use of KFC. In real life, I love me some KFC. I love the old recipe. I love the new recipe. There is nothing better than some KFC as a treat. The over-use of KFC in this movie reeks of desperation. Maybe Jordan Roberts thinks this is great quirky fun. It is not enough to just show the KFC logo. It is not funny on its own. The first part is a tired depressed muddle.

Walken and Lucas are perfectly good actors. They have some good father son moments. The material is not usually up to par. The kid contributes very little but he's very young. There are some good moments but it's not enough.
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7/10
Finger Licking Good Film With a Greasy Conclusion
eric26200324 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Death is knocking on the door of archaeologist Dr. Henry Lair (Michael Caine). His last wish is to gather his disgraced son Turner (Christopher Walken) and his level-headed grandson Jason (Josh Lucas)to go on a road trip. Wheh they show up at his doorstep, Henry Lair feels like his last wish is starting to materialize before his eyes. But suddenly he dies and has left his legacy his will which is a variety of clues and directions hidden in a Kentucky Fried Chicken bag. The centerpiece of the film is centered around the topic of death and how it effects those around the survivors of those loved ones, but we feel that this death is rather assumed rather then actually getting the feeling of the character being dead. The first 20 minutes into the film, the connections between Henry and his family seems to be at times very disjointed.

From a documentary focusing on the making of "Around the Bend", writer/director Jordan Roberts wrote the script for 10 long years which included a more in depth back-story involving Henry. Roberts goes all out to concentrate on the emotional impact on losing a person who was loved dearly and was taken into clinical masses. The deleted scenes that centres around the dying Henry has a more contrary perspective of the movie. Shamefully, Roberts edited out those scenes feeling they were incoherent to the plot. The film is only a measly 83 minutes long therefore, Mr. Roberts' theory to me seems rather unjustified.

The good qualities about "Around The Bend" is that it thankfully refrains from being gratuitously sentimental and doesn't have any kind of teary outbursts. However it succeeds in making it more subtle in this difficult stage in life. Henry's will instructs Turner, Jason and son Zach (Lucas Bobo) to drive to New Mexico where they must scatter his ashes through many parts of this state. They must also stop at every KFC and have a meal before they continue. Henry's rigor mortis sets the tone towards the heavy burdens that has manifested towards the Lair clan, but the internal turmoil takes its toll on them. Turner and Jason milk upon Turner's mysterious abandonment and during the trip they continually argue over various issues that has been affecting their relationship. But Henry's will sends Turner and Jason to well known landmarks that bridge the gaps between them that has kept them apart.

In the early parts of the film, Henry liked to refer to his clan as his tribe. All he ever wanted was to have cohesiveness and unity towards his family and to be at peace with one another. That's all fine fine and dandy, but it happened all too soon and abrupt making the movie too short and too rushed. There was a side-story that had an affect on Turner and he and Jason have a final battle of words at the last destination. The predictable conclusion deprives this nuanced tone. Death tries to removes the wedges from this estranged family and while the story is finger looking good, the conclusion is the one that flips the bird on us.
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9/10
A big hit at the Black Bear Film Festival 2004
garden-219 October 2004
A touching story, with excellent performances from the leads (though Michael Caine's American accent was a little wobbly) and beautifully filmed with some endearingly eccentric touches.

Reminiscent of the excellent Last Orders (oddly enough, also with Michael Caine), another ashes-on-the-road movie, but Around the Bend has a darker understory.

This was one of the most popular fims at the 2004 Black Bear Film Festival at Milford PA and the first-time director, in his fascinating and frank Q&A after the film, proved to be most engaging, enlightening and straightforward.
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4/10
It Kicks The Bucket
ciribiribin24 May 2007
Around The Bend is a cutesy little story about four generations of Lair males coming to grips with their dysfunctional relationship and lives. I can't say much else about the plot without giving it away. Suffice it to say its one of those movies where the male family hierarchy experiences a spiritual awakening by taking a communal pee in the desert. In other words, this movie is the male equivalent of a chick flick.

My wife picked out the DVD based on the actors in it, as is her custom. I'm more of a story-man and I must say my record for picking good movies is better than hers. But enough bragging. Ironically, in this case, it turned out the actors saved this thing from being a total bust. The ubiquitous Caine is over the top but that's his charm. The feminine heart-throb Lucas does the best he can with a schizoid character. The dancing-machine Walken is superb. And the precocious Bobo (I think he's the little boy) was believable as the generic kid who's wiser than his years.

Yawn. Haven't I seen this story before on Lifetime TV? I'm sorry, but the whole thing struck me as a kind of a psychological scavenger hunt. Imagine Oprah and Dr. Phil got a hold of the script of It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World and reworked it.

There you have it. Four stars because I watched the entire movie start to finish.
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10/10
Excellent! A 10
durden1327 March 2005
I have been waiting for this film for a long time. The first time I read about it I was excited. This film is very simple, sparse, beautifully acted, and superb. Chris Walken is one of our greatest actors and I think it's high time for him to get another Oscar nod. I enjoyed it very much and it has left an impression on me. The soundtrack was absolutely perfect as well. I am purchasing both the film and the soundtrack. As it happens, my father saw this film the day before I saw it and called me the day I rented it to recommend it to me. So, in some quirky was we had a bond through this film.

To the director and cast, job well done and thank you.
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8/10
Funny, touching, great acting and directing
TwoCookz229 October 2004
Around the Bend takes you on a journey to the southwest filling the big screen with gorgeous sunsets, living desert scenery, and ancient ruins of the settlers who lived here hundreds of years ago. I live in Albuquerque, and I am proud to see this movie filmed in Albuquerque and the surrounding areas. The plot is centered around carrying out Henry's wishes in his will and the emotions that play out with the closest family members, Turner, Jason, and Zack. The cast of male actors are Christopher Walken, Josh Lucas, Jonah Bobo, and Michael Caine who are the Lair Family. A good family movie with some language. This movie is playing in selected theaters around the United States. Check your local movie guides for locations. Floree Nowlin
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9/10
Wonderful Cast and Very Good Film
JohnLeeT18 January 2014
Very enjoyable film with an engaging script, fine direction, and superb performances from Walken and Caine. Overall, the film is entirely entertaining and quite moving at times. The photography and location filming are also a highlight. However, watching Walken and Caine in a film together is a delight and the story is both cockeyed and uplifting. If you admire the work of these two great actors, you won't want to miss them here even if you find the movie less than the funny, moving, and engaging film I found it to be. It certainly deserved a wider audience and more attention than it received. The director displays some real talent and the screenwriter delivers a uniquely well- done script with excellent dialog.
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10/10
From 'Father & Son' to mutual understanding
marcus_stokes200019 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
*SPOILERS around here* Jason Lair (Josh Lucas, 'Poseidon'), who works in a bank, lives with his ailing grandfather Henry (Michael Caine, 'Beyond The Poseidon Adventure', 'Alfie'), Henry's nurse Katrina (Glenne Headly, 'ER') and his own son, Zachary (Jonah Bobo, 'Zathura').

One day, Jason's father Turner (Christopher Walken, 'The Deer Hunter', 'The Dead Zone') darkens his doorstep after having abandoned him when he was 2 years old and his mother had died in a car accident with him in the car (or was he?), leaving him with a bum leg.

Jason is obviously none too pleased, but Henry is; Turner is his son, after all.

Sadly, though, Henry dies that very night, but not before having left very precise instructions on where to disperse his (and his beloved dog's) ashes.

So, Turner, Zachary, and a very reluctant Jason are on their way to a very special journey, which hopefully will get Jason and Turner's father-son relationship back on track...

But Turner is keeping some secrets, and they hurt...

Director Jordan Roberts scores 10/10 on my ratings for this film in which everything seems appropriate, from music to scenery, the actors really shine (especially Lucas, Bobo and the endearing Headly, however small her part may be) and a story that touches a nerve with everyone who has been a son, because even if our father didn't disappear for years, we all hold some kind of resentment towards him, sometimes even for no reason at all, like the famous song 'Father & Son' clearly shows.

Around The Bend is a great movie, not to miss.
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10/10
A perfect 10!
pnitschke118 July 2005
Everything about this movie is perfect. I cared about each character as soon as I was introduced to them. The scenes flow masterfully. Each nuance (Henry's drumming; Jason's echoing Henry's drumming; Jason's sigh when Henry starts drumming again before he even gets settled in bed) seems magically real and believably natural. I felt I knew them intimately.

The only time I usually watch a movie a 2nd time is for clarity. This movie I watched 6 times. Unprecedented for me. It was just such a pleasure to observe these people interacting; all puns intended.

Bravo!
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1/10
One long ad for KFC
James Bowie23 January 2017
As soon as that 'Desperate Housewives' plinky plonk type music started playing over the dialog early in the proceedings I should have pressed the eject button.

But no, I thought what the heck, let me see how bad this thing can get. So, I sat through it, often on fast forward to escape the sheer dreariness of it. The dialog is simply awful. The story totally unbelievable, and the acting pedestrian at best.

I don't know if KFC put money into this thing, but if they didn't they sure got a ton of free product placement.

I found the "making of ..." documentary in the extras way more interesting than the film.

Easily one of the worst films I have ever forced myself to watch.
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2/10
I'll never get those 83 minutes back!!
simonrosenbaum20 October 2009
I found this to be one of the most tedious and pointless films I've ever seen. According to the DVD cover it was suppose to be funny and a masterpiece. It was neither what it was was slow and depressing. It tried to be profound, nearly every line spoken was spoken like it was the most profound thing ever said. None of the characters were either likable or even that believable. At the start gathering from the music it was trying to be whimsical but it was as flat as a pancake. Despite having two great actors in Michael Caine and Christopher Walken not even they could save this from being a stone cold turkey. The only good thing about this film was the soundtrack and the cinematography (New Mexico always looks amazing). 2/10
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