The End of The Tour

| November 6, 2015

I’ve been wanting to see this movie for a while now, pretty much since they started filming in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which is only about an hour from where I live.  I know nothing about David Foster Wallace, or his critically acclaimed mammoth novel Infinite Jest.  I don’t care about Rolling Stone magazine, and as a rule I hate movies about writers, with movies about interviews never wowing me either.  What really intrigued me about The End of The Tour was the casting of Jason Segel (How i Met Your Mother) and Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network).  I’ve been a big fan of both of these actors for years now and putting them in the same movie piqued my interest months before I had any idea what the story would be about.

The story follows Wallace (Segel) during a book tour promoting Infinite Jest while he’s being followed around by a Rolling Stones reporter (Eisenberg) writing a profile.  The two talk about life and love and junk food and TV addiction and Alanis Morissette and fame, all in very theatrically intimate settings within midwest America.  These elements make for a truly unique movie viewing experience, coupled with the idea that the two characters are constantly feeling each other out and trying to decide if they even like each other.

I was expecting there to be more comedy in the film given the casting of Jason Segel.  I can’t think of many dramas the actor has done, but I thought he was terrific here.  I’m actually a big fan of casting traditionally comedic actors in dramatic roles because it allows them to show some range.  Plus, everyone knows comedy is more difficult, so it makes sense to take successful comedians and put them in dramas as a means of overkill in giving your film the best possible acting talent.  Eisenberg is always solid, whether he’s doing comedy or drama, and it’s nice to see him continuing to choose roles that move away from the awkward nerdy kid.  The subtleties in his performance here are remarkable as he’ll go from polite to passive aggressive to flirtatious to condescending at the turn of a hat, and it’s interesting to see Segal’s character see right through him at every turn, befriending the parts of his character he likes and engaging with the parts he dislikes.

The film may be a bit slow for some people, and even boring for those expecting a conventional road trip comedy, but I really get into these intimate little character-driven movies.  I’ll continue to keep an eye out for these guys’ work and hope to see them continue to branch out in the near future.

Available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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