Scenic Route Reviews

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YodaMasterJedi
Super Reviewer
September 13, 2013
three stars
MANUGINO
Super Reviewer
July 28, 2013
There is no turning back.

Great Film! The acting, dialogue, and desert scenery combine to make this an awesome movie. The deeper meanings and plot twists will keep you thinking about the movie and its implications for days. I feel that this movie wants you to get some perspective and appreciate your life and what you have, since many of us get stuck thinking about what we lack. It really is a unique film. If you are tired of movies that seem to copy old ideas, then this movie is for you. I highly recommend it.

The relationship between two old friends is tested as they are stranded in the desert.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ December 10, 2013
You know that there's a woman somewhere out there who is thinking, "You see, this is what happens when you don't take any girls on a road trip to make the men ask for directions", and when I say somewhere, I mean quite the difficult to place to find, as hardly anyone knows about this film, let alone a stereotypical, early-mid-life wife who still cares whether or not her husband asks for directions. Seriously though, I've heard of taking a wrong turn at Albuquerque, Bugs, but this is all kinds of wrong, and I'm not just talking about the casting. It's the, perhaps for somebody out there, long-awaited collaboration between Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler, so you know that this is bound to be quite the effective psychological drama. I can't figure out which one of these guys is the bigger comedic actor, as Duhamel has done some attempts at dramatic films that ended up being about as funny as plenty of things that Fogler has done. If nothing else, these guys seem to be challenging each other to see who can look the most hard rock, and looking at Duhamel with all of that dirt and a Mohawk in the poster and after a while into the final product, I'd say he's in the lead, even though Fogler does sometimes try to make himself the new Jack Black, and has just gotten done playing a Russian in "Europa Report", which is pretty hardcore. Well, it would appear that Fogler is starting to strongly consider getting into more serious roles, which would be great and all is people were actually seeing these films or, well, for that matter, actually like them. Jokes aside, I'm kind of surprised to find that this "dramatic" thriller starring Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler is as well-received as it is, and yet, there are still some complaints from people who like this film, including myself.

At this point, we've seen a film like this time and again, and no matter how much this particularly interpretation of an age-old bottle film formula tries to freshen things up with a buddy element that, in some ways, expands on tonal dynamicity and exploration of human layers in a crisis situations, even if it comes at the expense of the subjective immersion value that typically characterizes films like this one, this film still has little to say that's all that unique, even anything to say that's all that enlightening when it comes to developmental depth. Among the most undercooked elements in this film is motivation for the leads to end up in the main desert setting, and that really shakes investment, no matter how much the writer Kyle Killen tries to compensate by bombarding you with expository dialogue, even if its kick is limited, for although there is a lot of talk, expository depth to the characterization that drives this drama goes limited by objective dialogue, rather than more prominence in subjective visuals. The film stands to say more, and yet, it's still draggy, running a short length, but still offering a story so thin that not even a runtime of about 87 minutes is tight enough to prevent storytelling from getting bloated on filler and aimless exposition which are reasonably interesting, but slow down pacing and can't fully replace more immersive subjective storytelling. To tell you the truth, I really like bottle films, in spite of their natural shortcomings, but what a lot of rewarding dramatic, if not intense meditations upon man in claustrophobic environments that test humanity is their immersion value, and while this film is immersive in plenty of ways, all of the aimless rambling between the leads establishes too much objectivity in the place of subjectivity, making it all the harder to get drawn in enough to deny many of the natural shortcomings to this subject matter. As much as I love films like "Cast Away" and "127 Hours", no matter how incredibly well-directed and acted they are, they could never be great, as a story concept this minimalist limits potential something fierce, and it's hard enough to deny that when looking at good bottle films, let alone this one, which not tight enough in structure or realized enough in atmospheric bite for you to overlook dramatic limitations. I've always said that it's interesting how much impact you can get out of films this minimalist, but this time, it's hard to deny what can happen if you do not compensate for natural shortcomings about as much as you can, because even though this film is well-done in a lot of places, there are too many issues in storytelling for the final product to stand a chance of escaping underwhelmingness. Nonetheless, while the effort is not what it could have been, it stands to be a bigger misfire, even as a portrait of an unsettling setting for men to get end up stuck in.

A bottle thriller that is almost refreshingly more driven by dialogue than sheer environment, this film offers a central, California desert setting that is not dynamic enough or thoroughly well-explored enough to be all that immersive, but still pretty distinguished as a compliment to the selling of a claustrophobic environment that is still pretty important in this character study. Fair style and engaging settings are there, and yet, as I've been saying, they're not as played up as they are in other bottle dramas, as this is more about the character interactions, which, in order to succeed as engaging, need good writing, something that is indeed found here, at least to a certain extent, because even though Kyle Killen's script gets to be aimless, dullness is kept at bay by sharp, but still down-to-earth dialogue and humor, as well as some subtly colorful set pieces and, of course, inspired characterization, which is questionable in its excessiveness, yet still thoughtful in drawing interesting humans with relatable and, in some ways, disturbing layers. Really, while the writing isn't especially compelling, it's pretty interesting to learn about these leads, and when the going gets to tough, fall-outs in humanity really do bite, especially when sold by the leads. For a while, leads Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler aren't given a whole lot to do, but they're consistently relatively revelatory in their abandoning their superficial, if not comedic roots in order to share very layered, very effective chemistry, bookended by two distinguished charismas and range whose dynamicity slowly, but surely, builds, until you're faced with dramatically charged performances that are not simply surprises from Duhamel and Fogler, but just downright outstanding. You really do have to see this film to see Duhamel and Fogler showcase just what they're capable of, because even though they haven't completely abandoned their types, they bring depth to their performances that does a whole lot to drive the subtle progressive of this character study, though not without the help of Kevin and Michael Goetz's offscreen efforts. Now, don't be expecting the Goetz brothers to deliver nearly as much as Duhamel and Fogler do in their excellent lead performance, or even as much as Killen does in his pretty decent script, as there is not enough directorial bite to fully compensate for unfocused areas in writing, resulting in a certain underwhelmingness to the final product and, by extension, direction, which is still inspired enough to sustain an atmosphere that never gets dry to the point of losing entertainment value, and whose meditations upon actual dramatic material kick with anything from biting tension to a degree of emotional resonance. Were the film to offer more of a dramatic heart or more intensity, or even less aimlessness, it would have come closer to rewarding, maybe to the point of achieving a somewhat solid status, yet when it's all said and done, through all of the flaws to challenge the memorability of the project on the whole, there is enough inspiration on and off of the screen to endear, no matter how much you'll walk away wishing for a little bit more.

When the trip is over, a little bit of familiarity, a fair bit of underdevelopment and a great deal of aimlessness make it hard to ignore the substantial deal of natural shortcomings that leave the final product to sputter out as underwhelming, yet the immersive locations, clever and well-characterized writing, outstanding performances by Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler, and reasonably inspired direction by brothers Kevin and Michael Goetz prove to be enough to make "Scenic Route" an adequately engaging and sometimes gripping, if generally improvable dramatic-thriller meditation upon two friends whose comradery are tested along with their survival skills when stranded with the elements and personal demons.

2.5/5 - Fair
½ October 12, 2014
This starts out like a dark "My Dinner with Andre," gets a bit slow, and then wraps up with a fantastic ending. A movie certainly worthy of repeat viewing.
½ November 7, 2013
It is never really a great thing when one says "the best thing about" a movie is "its ending" and that is the case with Scenic Route, a mostly-dramatic film tinged with bits of humor from first time feature directing brothers, Kevin and Michael Goetz. Josh Duhamel (Transformers, Safe Haven) and Dan Fogler (Fanboys, Balls of Fury) play Mitchell and Carter who are two life-long friends whose friendship has drifted apart over the years as Mitchell has married, bought a house and started a family all while having a respectable (grown-up) job ... none of which Carter likes. Carter (very) vocally lets this be known on a long road trip the two take in his old pick-up truck with no air conditioning in which Carter decides to take a "Scenic Route" detour through a very stark, lonely, rarely-traveled and isolated patch of desert landscape where he also stages an automobile breakdown to ensure the guys have time to "discuss" his problems with his friend's current life that no longer features him exclusively in it (yes, Carter could grow-up a bit). The pair are in for a shock when Carter is unable to actually repair his faux engine trouble and they actually DO find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere miles from "civilization" contending with mutual dissatisfaction of one another and the extremely harsh elements of the desert without any food or water. The men brutally tear each other apart as their discussion leads them to even further frustration with one another causing one to wonder whether or not the men -- let alone their friendship -- can survive the harrowingly desperate situation. Duhamel makes his flawed character likeable-enough to wish him the best but Fogler's character comes across annoying and bitter and he makes the film a challenge to watch (that I find Fogler to be highly annoying to begin with does not help). The film tries to make valid points and raise valid questions about a variety of "grown-up" issues throughout its entirety; but it is perhaps the film's finale -- and not Duhamel's mohawk -- that is the most ponderously perplexing of all.
½ November 7, 2013
A lot of plot holes but it was entertaining because it was a buddy film that has solid drama and comedy into the mix. The dialogue was the best part throughout the entire film. The ending was a let down. I say check it out.
September 28, 2013
Two best friends go on a road trip and get stuck in the middle of desert, start arguing and things go ugly...
½ May 22, 2015
Decent flick, worth a watch.
½ May 4, 2015
An underrated surprise. An insanely desolate look at existentialism and friendship.
January 25, 2015
A smart, different and honest take on the classic "stranded" genre. The central performances carry the slow build from one unfortunate moment into the next. What really stands out is the terrific ending that separates it from the others like it and gives the entire film a real purpose and power.
August 19, 2013
Supposed to be psychological thriller but it did not work for me. The idea of them dreaming being climax is well written .
½ December 21, 2014
I thought this was totally plausible, especially considering how dumb one fo the friends is. Anyway, it was an enjoyable movie and not at all what I expected.
½ August 22, 2014
There was no really turning back, its hard to survive without water in a dessert for days. Really impressed how the ending turned out

2.5 Stars
½ August 14, 2014
While not as clever as it would like to be, this is a very well directed film. There's some painstakingly stupid moves for Fogler's character, but if you can brush that off, you'll enjoy the film.
August 5, 2014
This movie is pretty terrific when it's just two guys bickering and fighting for survival in the scorching desert -- Duhamel and Fogler deliver career bests -- but when it tries to be anything more than that it sort of fails miserably... and laughably. That's just so unfortunate because, yeah, when "Scenic Route" is at its best, it's just plain dope, brergi. God almighty that ending was shitty, though.
August 1, 2014
Big question ending, hahhahha
½ July 21, 2014
"Scenic Route" showcases strong interplay between Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler, whose performances allow this film to be tense and surprising. However, the screenplay itself lacks ambition and contains very little payoff.
July 6, 2014
Even though the film is set in one location (for the most part,) Scenic Route's script, and dialogue, not to mention acting keeps this movie intriguing. Although, the film starts of quick, there is a lag in the middle, but picks right back up to a great ending.
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