“You’re probably not going to like the end of this story, but I think you’re going to like this story” says the narrator at the beginning of Amazon Studios’ newest film, Don’t Make Me Go. Well, she’s right about half right.
Some people have happy memories of their old family road trips. Others have disaster stories. Amazon Studios newest film, Don’t Make Me Go, falls into the latter category. This is one of those movies where the trailer is better than the film. What should be an emotional, comedy/drama is instead a grueling, inconsistent mess. It’s a long, arduous journey that will make you look at your watch or cell phone and ask yourself, “Are we there yet?”
Directed by Hannah Marks, Don’t Make Me Go stars John Cho as Max, a single father to teenage daughter, Wally (Mia Isaac) who makes an unplanned family road trip. The reason being, Max discovers that his numerous headaches are really signs of a terminal disease and he wants his daughter to meet her mother (who left the pair when Wally was just a baby) before he dies. Conviently for him, his high school reunion gives him a good excuse to leave town. He’ll figure out a way to tell Wally the real reason for the trip along the way.
In a short scene at the beginning of the film, Wally is visiting her boyfriend at his house while his parents are away. He gets drunk and attempts to have sex with her to which she refuses. When Max finds out, he’s livid, acuses Wally of making poor choices and grounds her. But here’s the kicker. He tells her that he won’t forbid her from seeing the jerk again. Meanwhile, Max is making his own poor choices with Annie (Kaya Scodelario), a “friend” who wants nothing more in their relationship than a few benefits. And already, I’m not liking this movie.
Now, with a title like, Don’t Make Me Go, you would expect some pushback from Wally when her father tells her about the cross country trip. You would expect that she would through a fit and maybe a temper tantrum, but instead, he dangles a carrot promising to teach her how to drive along the way and she caves pretty quickly. This is pretty much how the whole movie plays out. Some tension will build between the two characters and then the situation gets resolved quickly.
During their journey, both characters make some questionable choices without many repercussions. Some of these are meant for comedic bits, but other than one surprise that happens at a beach, they aren’t’ very funny. And I get it. You can’t make a movie too much of a comedy when the father is dying, but Wally doesn’t even know that he’s sick. Then again, the emotional parts don’t really ring true either.
Now, to be clear, the actors do a pretty good job and the film does offer some good messages to think about, but this could have been a much better movie. Instead, we get a film with a weak script and plot points that don’t make any sense. It could have had some laugh-out-loud moments and some scenes that would pull your heartstrings. Sure, you feel bad for these two, but that’s about it. This feels more like an old afternoon school special (if you’re old enough to know what that is) than a feature film. What we’re left with is a slow-paced, depressing movie. Even the surprise ending isn’t much of a surprise if you’re paying attention and haven’t nodded off. Sorry, but this is just a long, boring, depressing mess.
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.