‘Don’t Make Me Go’ Review: Heartfelt Road-Trip Drama Loses Its Way


“You’re not gonna like the way this tale finishes,” announces the teenage narrator of “Don’t Make Me Go” as the film opens, “but I think you’re gonna like the story.” The initial 50 % of that sentence is so accurate it complicates the second. The movie’s ending is misguided to the issue of currently being perplexing instead than upsetting, recasting anything that arrived prior to it in a significantly less favorable light-weight. Which is a shame, as this father-daughter drama starring John Cho has additional than its honest share of touching times right before hitting the roadblock that is its questionable 3rd act.

Directed by Hannah Marks and prepared by Vera Herbert, “Don’t Make Me Go” is in some techniques an inversion of the “unexpected kid” genre in which the protagonist is released to the kid they didn’t know they had. The distinction is that here, conditions of the everyday living-and-dying selection prompt a one father named Max (Cho) to introduce his teenage daughter Wally (Mia Isaac, who also narrates) to the mother she’s under no circumstances met. That requires a highway vacation from California to Florida, which Wally — who’s unaware of her dad’s true intentions and thinks they are en route to his college reunion in New Orleans — only agrees to because her old gentleman at last agrees to give her driving lessons together the way.

It is been practically two decades because Cho 1st went to White Castle, and viewers of a specific age will likely never ever not discover it bizarre to check out him perform an overprotective father fairly than a stoner whose mom and dad are virtually undoubtedly unaware of his drug-induced misadventures. That does not make him any fewer persuasive in the purpose. Cho has comfortably settled into his next act, with standout roles in “Searching” and “Columbus” building a case for him as a minimal-key major person who can reliably anchor character-driven initiatives like this a person. He has a touch of an everyman vibe to him, and nevertheless he instructions the monitor every time he’s on it. It’s a uncommon asset, and one he utilizes to the fullest.

So it’s apropos that Max is the type of dad you often root for in these motion pictures: not fantastic — considerably from it, in reality — but striving his very best and always perfectly intentioned. Cho and Isaac two have an straightforward chemistry, and their difficulties — he does not like the boy she’s dating, and she’s annoyed that he won’t get out of his personal way and go after his desires — truly feel authentic if also familiar. And so, as it motors together, “Don’t Make Me Go” builds a narrative momentum befitting the style it is at any time so marginally tweaking.

From “Ikiru” to “Cries & Whispers,” “The Bucket List” to “The Fault in Our Stars,” consciousness of one’s mortality has inspired many a protagonist to set items right and notice grand truths about by themselves and the planet all around them ahead of that unavoidable fade to black. “Don’t Make Me Go” is admirably understated in the way it proceeds that custom, but pretty nearly squanders all the goodwill it conjures up with a 3rd-act twist that feels developed to subvert anticipations for the sake of subverting anticipations. In attempting to tug heartstrings, the film in the end raises eyebrows instead.


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