As I watched Scenic Route I couldn’t help but think about how similar the basic premise for this film is to another film I reviewed, Prince Avalanche. It is two guys in the middle of nowhere learning new things and finding out old details about one another. What’s funny about this are the goals of each film are about as different as they could possibly be. Prince Avalanche is two men repairing a road and talking, essentially. With Scenic Route the hostility becomes palpable between two lifelong best friends who hate what the other has become. While a verbal quarrel forms with the characters of Prince Avalanche they eventually resolve their differences in a comedic fashion; Scenic Route becomes snarled in violence and possibly even murder. With two similar concepts it’s amusing to see just how different they really are.
Comparisons aside, Scenic Route is decent enough for a watch but ultimately what keeps it from being something more is the ending. I won’t go into detail but for some reason the story turns from two men surviving both the desert and each other, into an extremely unnecessary ambiguous twist ending that quite frankly screwed the entire movie. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t end up hating any of it (it was entertaining enough), but the ending just turned it into something the rest of the film wasn’t working toward. It was a Shyamalan ending without the explanation and it is borderline infuriating to watch. If it hadn’t been for the mostly enjoyable first two acts of the film this may have been one of the worst films of the year (I hope this makes sense). I think it’s the confusing turn the film takes that is making this difficult to explain in a fully understandable way. Sorry for any confusion, you aren’t the only one.
On the road to an undisclosed location (It’s never explained where they are traveling to or from) two lifelong friends are thrown into a situation no one ever wants to find themselves in; stuck in the middle of nowhere with a broken down vehicle. Mitchell (Josh Duhamel) and Carter (Dan Fogler) have arrived at an impasse with one another. Carter believes Mitchell has settled with his life and Mitchell sees Carter as nothing more than a bum who has zero ambition other than to mooch off of anyone willing to listen. Mitchell believes that any complaint Carter has about Mitchell’s family is simply a reflection of what he wishes he had. As time passes and the temperatures rise and fall, as it does in the desert, they realize quickly how ill prepared they are for such a situation. If their mounting hatred wasn’t daunting enough, their hunger and thirst begin to get the better of them. Low morale combined with years of resentment explode into a full blown fist fight mixed with biting, choking, and crutch swinging; it is truly a life altering moment in both of their lives. Will they make it through the fight? Hell, will they make it out of the desert alive? I can’t honestly say yes or no to these questions as it’s never definitively answered. What I can say is the friendship between them has never been tested like this before nor will it ever be again.
The thrills are minimal here and by thrills I mean almost nothing other than harsh words exchanged among them. To put it plainly, this is a character piece set in the desert. A definite highlight for the film is the confrontation the two actors brought to life in such a compelling way. Take this how you may but each actor gives their best performances to date and it’s wonderful to see. I loved that the turn the story takes forces the pretty boy Duhamel to become a haggard, sickly shell of a man forced into a hellish scenario. Fogler brings a few, very brief moments of humor but he is not the usual funnyman he plays in any other movie he’s been a part of. This is a drama through and through and the absurdly quick spiral these characters go down is the best part of the film. I would say see it once but don’t expect too much here. My expectations were surpassed but it didn’t have far to go to pass them by.
Rated R For: language, some violence and a scene of sexuality
Run Time: 85 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Josh Duhamel, Dan Fogler, Miracle Laurie, Christie Burson
Directed By: Kevin and Michael Goetz
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 2.5/ Acting: 3.5/ Directing: 3.5/ Visuals: 2.5
OVERALL: 3 Nerdskulls
On Blu-Ray & DVD now.