Rated: R for language, some violence and a scene of sexuality. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: August 23, 2013 Released by: Vertical Entertainment
Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler go against the grain in a fairly well-crafted road picture which will likely be reaching ancillary streams by the advent of the fall season.
In Kevin and Michael Goetz's Scenic Route they're given some hearty passages as Mitchell and Carter, respectively, to deliver with gusto which helps treat some discerning cineastes a sharp-edged character study that's not always on an even keel.
Carter the aspiring but unsuccessful writer takes Mitchell unhappy in a financial position takes him on a ride that can be harmful, but rejuvenating for a once-valued camaraderie. There's more than a chance to open up old and current wounds as Mitchell gets a 'Taxi Driver' haircut from Carter, a kind of jovial presence by Fogler (Love Happens, Taking Woodstock).
Antagonistic and goofier interplay offer interesting diversions for certain interludes while frustration is around to counter it at least as assistance after Carter's truck breaks down in the middle of nowhere. A certain amount of momentum is deflected during what appears to be a key flashback for the sibling filmmakers, but they maintain a rather dark, unsettling mood making the most of a barren, arid location (filmed in Death Valley) that with extreme temperatures and wind have caused much duress for our unsuspecting travelers.
Scenic Route uses the austere to its advantage for a while before a sudden coda maybe like "Safe Haven" which starred Duhamel leaves the proceedings probably too much up in the air, in a "what if" enigmatic way. It's kind of an endurance test with a little more passion the writing by Kyle Killen (The Beaver) than expected. Yet this Route is alas ultimately stranded in spite of a solid, spirited stoking from Fogler and Duhamel, who, like Ryan Reynolds (see Buried) isn't afraid to take on more modest, riskier projects with a better character arc though in this case not served well enough by The Goetzs and Killen.