Neil Jacobs, Warner Independent Pictures
"Around the Bend" may have enough character quirks and plot twists to separate it from your usual road movie, but not enough to keep the film from becoming a real bore.
In fact, the quirkiness is one of the film's most tiresome aspects. At times it almost feels as if the movie is making fun of itself, acknowledging just how familiar and overdone most of this material is.
It was also a huge mistake for the filmmakers to load the film with R-rated material (mostly harsh language), since that might deter some older moviegoers who would otherwise be disposed to see this type of movie.
Worse, at times the film appears to be a cinematic infomercial for the KFC chain, since its restaurants are a nearly constant presence throughout.
"Around the Bend" sort of describes the members of the Lair family. The family patriarch, Henry (Michael Caine), has recently died, and as part of his will, the remaining family members are supposed to journey throughout the Southwest, to spread his ashes in several locations.
That provision was meant to bring Henry's sons, Turner (Christopher Walken) and Jason (Josh Lucas), back together. Their relationship has been strained, due to Turner's wild and sometimes criminal ways.
Jason's young son, Zach (Jonah Bobo), has also come along for the ride. But what he and his father don't know is that Turner is concealing yet another secret from them.
To be fair to screenwriter/director Jordan Roberts, he does try to do something a little different here, which makes the rather conventional some would say inevitable ending even more disappointing.
Which is a shame, because he has such a good cast. As always, Walken does his best to make this mess watchable. And newcomer Bobo is assured and confident for someone so young.
But Lucas seems a little bored. And forcing Caine to hide his natural British accent was a mistake (his voice almost sounds cartoony).
"Around the Bend" is rated R for occasional use of strong sexual profanity and some crude sexual talk, drug content (use of pharmaceuticals, as well as some talk of drug use), and some brief gore. Running time: 85 minutes.
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