The Long Dumb Road
Directed by: Hannah Fidell
Written by: Hannah Fidell, Carson Mell
Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Ron Livingston, Tony Revolori, Jason Mantzoukas, Grace Gummer and Pamela Reed
Run Time: 1h 30min
2 ½ Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
‘The Long Dumb Road,’ a buddy comedy, has poor Nathan or ‘Nat’ (Revolori) in a pickle from the very beginning. Nat is a young naïve photographer on his way to give it a go in L.A. via art school. He doesn’t know how to say the word no, which gets him into trouble when he meets Richard (Mantzoukas) who wouldn’t take no for an answer in the first place.
Nat’s car breaks down right at the same moment this trashy, grungy, unkempt, mess of a mechanic is losing his job. This is the perfect set up for your typical on the road indie-comedy and though common-place, at least its stars aren’t. Luckily, the pair both need what the other has in that Nat needs his car to get going and Richard needs to be driven somewhere. Where it is Richard needs to go becomes less and less clear as the road grows further behind them. He tells Nat he only needs a ride forty-five miles up the road. That forty-five miles turns into his being Nat’s buddy on this trip across the country. Though often frustrated with being taken advantage of, Nat gets what he needs from Richard, too. Without him, he’d never get the fatherly advice about sex Richard freely gives or get to experiment with drugs for the first time. Of course, he’d probably not get into the trouble Richard seems to draw to him either.
Nat has lived a very sheltered existence and finds it easy to blossom shadowing his new extremely extroverted companion. Nat has, up until now, been capturing life through his camera lens and is happy to be finally getting into the action yet is still very timid. Richard wants to crack the foundation Nat has built for himself by ‘ripping the condom off’ his mind. Revealing very little about who he really is, Richard doesn’t want to be put under the microscope but gives enough away to show that he does have a softer side. He’s critical of himself, worried he’s aging and that he’s ugly. He also admits that there’s a girl from high school that he’s never gotten over. This little sidetrack becomes one of the biggest mistakes in the film. Quite frankly the aforementioned revelations make you look at Richard’s character differently. As it grows from loser to invaluable trailblazer with crucial guidance, his very essence no longer makes sense. This is especially the case if he’s suddenly a simple-minded dolt. Some of the more outrageous parts of the script are based on the Richard we first meet and does not gel with the Richard we see toward the end. The comedy is intact but the loyalty to the part is lost. While Richard becomes more of a buffoon, the role turns the audience off from what they liked about him in the first place. However, the real Richard does show up again at the very end making you almost forgive the error.
The generation gap between the two is the most developed and most impressively explored part of the journey. They’re both student and scholar on the road to wherever life takes them at this point. It’s sometimes entertaining, sometimes implausible like when they decide to, out of nowhere, visit the woman Richard never got over. She, not even remembering him, lets him into her house? Not likely to happen, nor is this necessary. ‘The Long Dumb Road’ has some fabulous cameos, amusing dialogue and some lively characters that move in and out but nothing good stays for very long. There just isn’t enough gas in the tank to get you from point A to point B without you wanting to get up and wander off on occasion. It’s a bit too absurd to be believed at times but the jokes that hit their target and the performances do save it from a don’t see to a watch at home.