Ride the Eagle (2021) – Film Review
Director: Trent O’Donnell
Cast: Jake Johnson, Susan Sarandon, JK Simmons
By @Roger Crow
Remember New Girl, the Zooey Deschanel comedy which started off well but then went off the boil? Well it did for me at least, and one of the weakest links was Jake Johnson. Comedy is obviously subjective, and one person’s aching ribs due to a pratfall can be another’s stony faced silence.
His turn in Tom Cruise’s awful revamp of The Mummy did little to endear me to him, though that wasn’t his fault. Now comes one of those soul-searching comedy dramas in the style of Michael Keaton’s 1990s blubfest My Life, or Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown. Both movies involved grieving and passing on life advice to those left behind.
“Backdrops are phenomenal”
In this case Johnson plays Leif, who is left with a conditional inheritance when his estranged mother Honey (Sarandon) dies.
Before he can move into her picturesque Yosemite cabin, he has to complete her elaborate, and sometimes dubious, to-do list. So Leif had to enter a stranger’s abode and leave a note, and get in touch with the girl who got away. And in case all the shots look like the leads were socially distant, that’s because they were. Yes, filmed during Covid, the movie looks great, though after a while it just becomes a bit annoying. The gorgeous log cabin is pure Grand Designs, and those backdrops are phenomenal.
There’s a deliberately awkward attempt at phone sex, which is more annoying than sexy, and not in a comical way. The Truth About Cats and Dogs covered similar ground far more effectively.
So many things are right about the movie, including the presence of Susan Sarandon and JK Simmons, but I didn’t really care about Leif’s soul-searching. There didn’t seem to be much of a character arc, and I couldn’t have cared less if he got together with his old flame.
“Steals every scene”
To paraphrase Ridley Scott, “Get the casting right and most of the hard work is done on the day”. And for me the lead is just wrong. Johnson does a good job, even if I’m not his biggest fan, but when a gorgeous black Lab (Johnson’s own rescue dog) steals every scene from under him, you know there are problems.
So, great locations, gorgeous dog, phenomenal cabin, and an okay script, but it just needed more belly laughs, a fresher script, and Simon Pegg in the lead.