Posted: 11/17/2009

 

The Open Road

by Elaine Hegwood Bowen




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The Open Road, starring Justin Timberlake and Jeff Bridges could as well be an open therapy session for both men, as Timberlake sets off to reunite with his father, Bridges, because Timberlake’s mother, played by Mary Steenburgen, is ill and wants to see Bridges, before she agrees to surgery.
Bridges is a famous baseball player named Kyle Garrett, and Justin, Carlton Garrett, plays baseball also, in Ohio; while Bridges has last settled in Texas.

There hasn’t been much communication between son and father, but he promises his mother that will be bring his father back to see her, before her heart ailment gets the best of her. Carlton goes with much hesitation, but he’s smart to take his gal pal, Lucy, along, a lady with whom he once has a closer relationship.

Kyle is an ornery, old man who when first approached in Texas. He lies and says he’s lost his wallet once they arrive at the airport. So the three rent a red Hummer for the trip from Texas to Ohio. They are racing against time, both for the mother’s surgery and for the young lady to get back to her teaching job.

Ted Danson and Lyle Lovett each have small cameos; Danson as Kyle’s baseball coach, and Lovett as the bartender at Memphis’ Peabody Hotel bar, just one of the stops along the way.

Years of miscommunication, frustration and comically awkward attempts at bonding come to a head as the mismatched trio make their way back to Ohio. But the Open Road is a comedy full of hard lessons to be taught and learned from all concerned parties. In between the lessons, Carlton tries to deal with the crazy, sometimes drunken antics of his father, including car trouble and bathroom brawls. But he pays attention long enough to get love lessons that help him in dealing with Lucy. In the end, the entire lot of them draws closer together, and Carlton is grateful to be able to come through for his mother, even though they make it to the hospital shortly after she’s had surgery.

Kyle is less ornery, also, in the end. The mother is glad to have had some part in bringing father and son back together, and even Lucy and Carlton decide to give it one more go at staying a couple.

The Open Road is available on DVD from Anchor Bay November 17. Visit web site at www.theopenroadmovie.com or www.anchorbayent.com.

Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.



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