Scenic Route Blu-ray Review
The prologue shows two men, both bloody and sweaty, savagely screaming by a truck. One bludgeons the other with a crutch. So what does it take for two best friends to come to this? Cut to days earlier and there are the same two men and the same truck. This time, they are clean and the truck is running—until it no longer is.
It’s somewhere in the California desert on the “scenic route,” if one’s idea of “scenic” involves no trees or bodies of water. There is no cell phone signal and the two have as much of nothing in front of them as they do behind. This is usually the part where a homicidal maniac comes, holds the road trippers hostage and starts removing their limbs one by one.
But SCENIC ROUTE isn’t a horror movie. It’s about two friends—businessman Mitchell (Josh Duhamel, the first three TRANSFORMERS entries) and unemployed writer Carter (Dan Fogler, 2009’s FANBOYS)—who have grievances to air and have no better time or place than now and there. Carter’s jabs start innocent enough. But the underlying tension erupts when he expresses how much Mitchell’s wife has sucked all of his freedom and personality away and is the reason he no longer sees his buddies and named his dog Sunshine. It’s really no wonder Mitchell puts his crutches to use.
We don’t have to like both characters for this kind of two-character story to work. Instead, we have to understand where each is coming from. We’ve all wanted to bash our friends for spending too much time with their significant other or call them losers because of what they’ve done with their lives. The characters are deeper than what might be expected: when Mitchell reveals he cheated on his wife, it’s partly to add to his past but mostly to reveal his life back home is an unhappy one.
Another element that makes SCENIC ROUTE a success is the chemistry between Duhamel and Fogel. Here are two actors that you wouldn’t expect to give a strong performance—Duhamel being better known for his romance movies like WIN A DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON! and WHEN IN ROME and Fogler recognizable as a stand-up comedian with a spot-on Al Pacino impression—but give it their all and come off fearless. The former shows that, under the right circumstances, he’s capable of giving an incredibly strong dramatic performance, while the latter suggests that he may have been the right choice to play Sam Kinison after all.
SCENIC ROUTE is directed by Kevin and Michael Goetz, who won Emmys for, of all shows, THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY. In their feature debut (their short film, MASS TRANSIT, was released in 1998), the brothers, working with a screenplay by Kyle Killen (2011’s THE BEAVER; the short-lived NBC series AWAKE), create a surprisingly tense drama/thriller where no man is better than the other and the audience is never sure what their flaws and mistrusts will result in or where it will leave them.
SCENIC ROUTE BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Since SCENIC ROUTE is set entirely in the desert (save a few flashback sequences), the colors are limited to browns and the locations to natural landscapes and surroundings. That said, the picture is certainly not without detail (skin tones and textures are very good) and the nighttime scenes never look flat.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Subtitles in English. As with the video, there isn’t a whole lot going on with the audio. Still, the dialogue is clean and the wind effects provide necessary atmosphere.
Audio commentary with Goetz Brothers and Josh Duhamel: The trio has a great chemistry that makes this detail-filled commentary an easy listen for fans.