Very similar to final week “How It Ends,” “Ride the Eagle” demonstrates that it’s certainly doable to make a characteristic movie below strict COVID-19 protocols, however doesn’t appear to have a lot of a concept of easy methods to make a superb one below these circumstances. “Ride the Eagle” seems like everybody concerned was extra within the logistics of the manufacturing than the story that they have been telling. The tip result’s a movie that may solely spark curiosity due to the circumstances surrounding its existence reasonably than something concerning the story itself until there’s starvation on the market for rehashes of “Backyard State.”
Jake Johnson, who co-wrote the screenplay with director Trent O’Donnell, performs Leif, an oddball character who, because the movie opens, will get the phrase that his mom, Honey (Susan Sarandon) has not too long ago handed away. The information is just not precisely heartbreaking to him—he has been estranged from her since she deserted him at the age of 12 to affix a cult and had rebuffed current efforts by her to achieve out to him. Now she has made one final effort to fix fences with him with the inducement of leaving him her spiffy cabin in Yosemite as his inheritance. Nevertheless, in tried and true quirky indie film custom, there’s a catch—he has to go as much as the cabin and carry out a sequence of duties defined to him by way of a videocassette recorded by Honey earlier than her passing or he will get nothing.
After Leif and his trustworthy canine companion Nora arrive at the cabin, he finds the cassette and will get to work on the duties at hand. At first, there’s the distinct suspicion on his half (and ours) that Honey is simply screwing with him once more—one request is to row throughout a lake and sneak right into a home with a view to dropping off a kiss-off notice and one other fee him with catching a fish for his dinner utilizing solely his naked fingers. Then again, one other request is for him to name “the one which obtained away” and apologize for his errors and this leads him to reestablish contact with former girlfriend Audrey (D’Arcy Carden). It seems that there are nonetheless a couple of sparks between them, even over the telephone, however, Audrey is hesitant to do something about them as a result of she’s nonetheless reeling from a foul breakup. A number of the further duties are extra critical in nature and power the admittedly resentful Leif to in the end rethink each of his personal life and his troubled relationship along with his mom.
The essential downside with “Ride the Eagle” is that none of it’s particularly fascinating. Watching yet one more bland man within the throes of seemingly limitless adolescence, working by means of his private points and coming to phrases with issues, is simply not fairly as compelling because it may need been as soon as upon a time and Johnson and O’Donnell (who beforehand labored collectively on the long-running sitcom “New Woman”) don’t actually carry something new to the desk. The stabs at quirky humor—equivalent to the self-esteem that Leif ekes out a residing by enjoying bongos in a band—are just a bit too compelled to be humorous. The movie can be fairly skinny from a dramatic standpoint, and by the point that Leif—Spoiler Alert!—has his massive epiphanies within the ultimate stretch, they don’t actually exhibit the sort of emotional energy they have been clearly meant to have as a result of it’s arduous to care about any of them.
Johnson, Carden, and Sarandon are all good actors and do as a lot as they will with the fabric at hand however they too typically appear to be coasting, seemingly extra relieved to have the ability to get out and do one thing than into making their characters into convincingly three-dimensional folks. The one who does handle tugging this off is J.Okay. Simmons, who turns up late within the recreation and breathes some life into the proceedings, however, that is nearly totally because of his capability to make virtually every scene he performs really feel completely genuine, it doesn’t matter what he’s working with. I take that again—the canine that performs Nora can be fairly spectacular and I’m not usually one vulnerable to the charms of canine actors. Put it this fashion—there’s one lengthy stretch within the movie the place Nora takes off on her personal and after some time, I discovered myself wishing that the movie had chosen to observe her and go away her much less fascinating proprietor behind.
“Ride the Eagle” isn’t horrible, I suppose—it’s too blah to encourage that sort of an emotional response. Its greatest crime is that the entire thing, in the long run, is simply sort of pointless, and doesn’t supply viewers something that they haven’t already seen earlier than and it is by no means as amusing or thought-provoking because it wishes to be. Though I suppose that some curiosity could be derived from observing the lengths that it goes to observe COVID protocols (equivalent to together with only a few scenes that include a couple of characters in the identical body at any given time), no matter enchantment which may maintain rapidly dissipates and leaves you with nothing.