AROUND THE BEND (Jordan Roberts, 2004)
Four generations of men are brought together in AROUND THE BEND. Michael Caine plays the family patriarch Henry. He raised his grandson Jason, played by Josh Lucas, and lives with Jason and his son Zach. Jason’s father, Turner, a small time criminal played by Christopher Walken, has been out of touch for years but returns shortly before Henry dies. Henry’s final wish was for Turner, Jason, and Zach to take a road trip following a map and instructions he left in several fast food bags.
AROUND THE BEND is composed of familiar stuff for indie film debuts. Writer-director Jordan Roberts’ film oozes sentimentality for the plight of these mildly eccentric characters on a journey to reunite a broken family. The problem isn’t the film’s gooey center but the flavorless, formulaic substance surrounding it. Walken is always a good hedge to keep the proceedings from becoming too conventional, and indeed his trademark weirdness is welcome as it pokes through AROUND THE BEND. In a driving scene Turner cranks up the radio only to have Jason demand that he turn it down. Turner explains that Henry wanted them to play it loud and gets Jason to concede. Then, with a twinkle in his eye, he explains that he was just kidding. Walken plays it beautifully, spicing an overly glum film with his mischievousness.
(Review first aired on the October 26, 2004 NOW PLAYING)