Review: The Road

December 26, 2009

(PHOTOSHOP) Not that kind of Road movie…unfortunately.

What better way to spend a pleasant Christmas Day than to see a movie, yes? Too bad I picked a loser.

Adapted from a novel by gifted typist Cormac McCarthy, The Man (Viggo Mortensen) takes up the Herculean task of keeping his moronic son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) alive after an unspecified apocalypse.* The Man feels like the sort of fellow that would have been a political Vegan back before the world ended – the kind of father who wouldn’t let his child play games that reinforced patriarchal sex roles and encourages his kid to call him “Papa” . Yes really, he gets called that by his whiny child all the way through the movie.

They walk South, almost weaponless, trying to find a better life.  As they do this the Boy acts as if he has a learning disorder, making LOTS of noise in the cannibal-infested outdoors, falling asleep when he’s supposed to be guarding the camp, and carrying toys and crayons (!) around in his backpack, rather than stuff he really could use, like a knife, a compass, or anything more practical. I kept expecting Viggo to go off on the Boy (which he finally does, close to the end of the movie) instead of enabling the Boy like he does through most of the film.

Finally, the Man dies (and I don’t care if I’m spoiling this for any one – this movie deserves spoiling) and with the luck only the Movies can provide, the Boy meets up with another survivor family, who have to take up a not a little bit of screen time trying to convince(!) the Boy to come along with them. Oh well – we go to the credits before the Boy has time to expose his new family to the cannibal hordes on the first night.

I can see why Viggo took the role – he’s kind of a badass in most of his movie parts, and this lets him show he has range. Fair enough. Now that you’ve accomplished that, go back and make some more badass stuff.

* The film sort of implies that the apocalypse was nuclear. My problem with leaving this kind of unstated is – if it was a nuclear holocaust, The Man is really stupid, as he’s first waited from the birth of his child to until the kid is about ten to actually move along, encouraging the kid to call him Papa all along, and then makes sure he walks through all the places that were then hit with nuclear weapons.  Wouldn’t it have been smarter to avoid all the irradiated areas completely?  And if it wasn’t a nuclear holocaust, why was most of the infrastructure of civilization destroyed?  Apparently all books with practical skills are missing, as nobody can even find a Boy Scout handbook. Also, all the animal life on at least this continent is supposedly gone – how precisely, did the Man and his bitch of a wife survive with a growing child for about ten years without gathering food of some sort.  I think the LDS are supposed to hold 2 years of a supply – how did the Man do it, without moving way before the Boy got to that advanced age?

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