Gritty drama that follows two high school acquaintances, Hancock, a basketball star, and Danny, a geek turned drifter, after they graduate.Gritty drama that follows two high school acquaintances, Hancock, a basketball star, and Danny, a geek turned drifter, after they graduate.Gritty drama that follows two high school acquaintances, Hancock, a basketball star, and Danny, a geek turned drifter, after they graduate.
Occasionally it gets things right and briefly wanders into "A Simple Plan" or "The Last Picture Show" territory, in its double-edged depiction of small town security and frustration. There's a terrific, understated scene between Jason Gedrick and Tracy Pollan as they swim in a hot spring and lazily recall some of their glory days. Kiefer Sutherland and Meg Ryan have some nice fragile moments in the desert when these two lost souls discover the joy of actually connecting, however briefly, with another human being. There are glimmers of something substantial going on here, which is what makes the whole so disappointing.
The biggest flaw is the amount of time elapsed from Gedrick's game-winning buzzer beater that kicks the story off, to a mere TWO years later, when the 4 principles are at their big "crossroads" in life. Two years is simply not long enough. The film is making the specious argument that somehow Reagan's cold-hearted policies (he appears a couple times on television making supposedly "empty", out of touch speeches) are to blame for Gedrick dropping out of school and settling for becoming a local cop, or Sutherland hitting the road because he can't live up to his nickname ("Senator") by the ripe old age of 19! Yeah, fate and that trickle down economy are really conspiring against those two, aren't they? In order for an audience to really FEEL their desperation, they need to be older with their directions in life more set in concrete. That's why "A Simple Plan" worked so well, where here it's much harder to sympathize with the lead characters. Hell, chalk it up as a bad year or two. They all still have plenty of time to right the ship.
The acting is generally okay. I thought Meg Ryan over-did the hell-raising a bit, but at least she gives the film some real jolts of energy. Gedrick pulls a classic, 4 star nutty in a kitchen at one point that would make Mickey Rourke proud. Unfortunately the writing too often lets them down. There's such a fine line between having inarticulate characters groping for words to express themselves, and the screenwriter groping to give them something meaningful and revealing to say. In this case, it sure felt like the screenwriter was doing the most groping. There's just too many "It's not you. It's me!" and "You just ... don't understand!" type lines. Many of the arguments are forced and unconvincing.
I really liked the film's collision course structure, many of its visuals (the spinning camera around the little car in the desert casts an undeniable spell) and even its bombastic score full of "end of the world" chants and that sort of thing. It was setting me up for a conclusion that I was expecting to have so much more of an impact than it ultimately did. It didn't dig deep enough, didn't flesh out its people or their world (the town is never given a personality other than generically small and sleepy) sufficiently for me to care as much as I wanted to. But I did WANT to, and perhaps that's a small accomplishment. It's certainly better than the not entirely dissimilar "Inventing The Abbotts". But if you really want to see a more successful though equally forgotten riff on these very themes check out an early Bridget Fonda flick called "Out Of The Rain".
- Jul 23, 2001