Movie Review: “The Open Road” Michael Meredith 2009

Jeff Bridges, Mary Steenburgen, Justin TimberlakeKate Mara

Personal Blurb-style Intro (aka “Why I picked up this dvd”):

Let’s just say the selection in Sigonella, while robust and diverse, is still a small selection. I was shocked to see this cover, with such big names on it, and realized that I had never even heard of this movie. I was intrigued.

I also want to say upfront that the Cinquecento Project was started from a desire to embrace the positive in life and enjoy the ride (pun definitely intended). It is my intention to keep that perspective with this comical movie review. Did I think this movie sucked? Yes. Does it have any redeeming qualities? Very few. Yet, I know that the people involved took this project seriously and did their best to try and make it work. Sometimes, things just don’t work out, and this is one of them. In times like these, it is time to make movie-lemonade, maybe with a splash of vodka. Enjoy!


This is a movie for drinking with friends. Come up with a drinking game (or push-ups, or whatever would be fun for you) revolving around cameos (Ted Danson, Lyle Lovett, Harry Dean Stanton), lame lines (the list will be provided below), and silly plot developments (sort of the wild-card category). Some of the time you will blame the dialog, other times the direction, and more often than you think you’ll be groaning at the combination of the two.

What makes this movie ridiculous:

(1) A grown woman refuses some mysterious surgery and the family wants a court order to get her under the knife. Yet this oh-so-important part of the movie, you-know, the part that puts the whole “road trip” in motion is NEVER explained. Some random heart problem is the extent of the explanation. On top of that, there are no details about the initial relationship or subsequent break-up between Jeff Bridges and Mary Steenburgen. So, right away, we really have very little reason to understand or care whether she gets the surgery or whether Jeff Bridges goes anywhere.

(2) Complete lack of chemistry between Justin Timberlake and Kate Mara.There is no dialog to create a chemistry, so I can’t really blame the actors. They flirted their damnedest on screen, but there really wasn’t anything to work with. This relationship is further *Super-weird* when Mara’s absent fiancee is mentioned.

(3) Timberlake’s complete insecurity about EVERYTHING. I think this insecurity is supposed to support the idea that he is too insecure to believe in his hidden writing abilities (ahem, is this the screenwriter projecting?), and thus the insecurity is manifesting itself in bringing down his ball game. Yet, in the first half of the movie, he is so insecure that it is unbelievable he ever brushed his own teeth or tied his own shoelaces.

(4) Geography and Mara’s phantom teaching job. Geography problem – traveling from major city (Columbus, Ohio) to major city (Houston, Texas), but the car is always on 2-lane country roads. Mara teaching job problem – they “sorta” want her back by Wednesday, which, once mentioned, is never addressed again, ad the movie seems to span from Monday-Friday.

(5) Trying to be clever by making fun of the H3 Hummer? By calling it small? And making a lame “hummer” joke? Puh-lease.

(6) Theme attempt of father-son discord means Timberlake and Bridges “never talk” but then Bridges magically knows what is best for Timberlake and is insightful and recalls conversations to support his insights. Uh…I thought you guys never talk…where did these conversations come from?

(7) CREEPY ALERT: The scene in the hotel room when Mara is sleeping and Timberlake comes and lays down on her bed with her. Mara’s hand reaches 1/2 inch toward Timberlake and he takes her hand and grins. It doesn’t go further than this, but it has a very creepy feeling.

(8) Timberlake’s outrage at the one-hour mark. All of a sudden he’s so worried about his mom that he yells at Mara for not caring about getting back (who missed a week of work and left her supposed fiancee). Dumb.

Best Lines (mostly comical) & Saving Graces:

Coach (Ted Danson): “And, baseball players don’t say things like “eluding.” So pull it outta your ass and play some ball for me, will you please!”

Kyle Garrett (Jeff Bridges): “You’re prettier than a spotted heifer in a pansy patch.”

Timberlake:  “You’re the one who blushed when he called you a heifer.” <Pause> “A cow.”   Mara: “I know what a heifer is.”

Mara: “<Sigh> Huh. Sorry, was that me.” Timberlake: “Yea, what were you gonna say?” Mara: “Oh nothing. I was just tryin’ ta internally ponder something, but, the internal thing didn’t really work out.”

Bridges: “Well. I think I’m gonna go on in there and get some booze, get drunk. Do ya want anything?”

[Jill W: Dear reader, I recommend you do the same NOW]

Timberlake: “I just can’t believe it. I can’t believe any of this shit. Reeves is gonna take me out of the lineup if I don’t play well on Saturday. My mom is in a hospital bed convinced she’s about to die. And, and, this guy is just out with a barfly. Huh…I mean who does that? How could anybody do that?”

Steenburgen: “You mustn’t ever ignore the ride, honey.”

Mara (whose name in the movie is LUCY): “Okay. First of all, stop calling me Lucy. My whole life it’s been ‘honey’ or ‘baby’ or whatever and now all of a sudden it’s Lucy!!?”

Gas station attendant: “That gonna be it?” Timberlake: “Maybe just some cyanide.”

Bridges: “I’d kill a man to be 25 again.” Timberlake: “Huh, you would.”

Timberlake: “What are you drinking?” Bridges: “Tasty beverage.”

THE ENTIRE BAR SCENE WITH LYLE LOVETT. Terrible, terrible dialog.

Gas Station Attendant: “I’d rather watch the grass grow.”

Timberlake: (reaches across table to take Mara’s hand) “Look. I know that I’m gonna screw things up every now and then. And, I know, that things won’t be perfect. But give me one chance, I swear to God I’ll never hurt you again.”  [JW says: Hello! One chance? One? What is this “again” business if you’re asking for “one chance”? You already had it. That is just a semantics problem though, I think everyone deserves another chance in life. But the WORST part is that this is apparently all it takes for Mara to just fall over and come back to Timberlake. BARF!]

Saving Grace #1: Jeff Bridges! He is so golden that I actually watched the whole movie.

Saving Grace #2: Timberlake trying to pull the front bumper off of the H3 Hummer.

Saving Grace #3: Wrastling fight between Bridges and Timberlake. Great scene, actually. Both guys get into the fight just the right amount, well, Timberlake could’ve maybe been slightly more puffy, since he’s the younger one, but overall the scene really conveyed each man’s deep desire for connection with the other guy. We all just wanna be loved, of course, and here’s a scene that depicts the way that desire is manifested between father and son more often than mani-pedi dates. (I’m not knocking the mani-pedi, Dave and I enjoyed a duo mani-pedi date when he returned from Afghanistan and it was great!).


Who cares!?! And how did this movie get made??? Seriously, what kind of pull does Michael Meredith have, where did he get it, and how can I tap into that kind of persuasive power to try out my mediocre ideas?

IMDB Link:

1 Comment

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One response to “Movie Review: “The Open Road” Michael Meredith 2009

  1. Lester

    you are so cute, Jill.

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