Ride The Eagle: Review. By Alif Majeed.
I realized Ride the Eagle was co-written by its star, Jack Johnson, only when I finished watching the movie. Though I did a double-take, it makes total sense as the lead character seems tailor-made to play to his biggest strengths. This is not unfamiliar territory to him, and checks all his trademark boxes and then ends up being pretty functional. That pretty much sums up the movie too.
The movie begins with Johnson’s character Leif, getting a message that his mom has died, conditionally bestowing him with his mom’s old cabin house. It is conditional because to gain complete control of the property; he has to fulfill some conditions that she lays out through a videotape from across the grave. (Susan Sarandon having fun without barely ever getting up from the sofa).
It is supposed to get her son, an overgrown man-child, to wake up and smell the roses. You know he is a man-child because he perpetually wakes up hungover and can barely feed himself and his dog. Also, he plays a “useless” instrument (a banjo here) in a band whose members are much younger than him. These are two facts they keep harping about throughout the movie. Now the tasks themselves are not shocking, even if the reactions of Leif suggest otherwise. It also does not have much range or variety, bordering on mundane and silly. One task involves going to the other side of the river in a canoe and breaking into a house to leave a screw you note. Another is about calling up an ex whose heart he broke and say sorry for what he did to her.
Straight off the bat, it comes across as the life-affirming movie that, by the end, will teach the protagonist some life-affirming yet pretty superficial lessons. It almost sinks under the weight of its overall sweetness. But the central performance by Johnson is what holds together the film. He mainly interacts with people over the phone or through the tape (like his mother), and he somehow makes the whole thing work, like the scene where he first plays his mom’s video. Things get awkward when the reactions by Susan and his responses do not sync and quickly go into awkward silences mode. It is not a wholly original scene, but Johnson makes it pretty amusing. That he also got a decent stacked cast to get involved also shows their faith in him and the goodwill he enjoys.
His interaction with D’Arcy Carden (from The Good Place and Barry), who plays his ex, is also natural and organic. There is undoubtedly some anger and coldness there, but you can believe that the conversation might have developed the way it plays out on screen. Their chemistry is also excellent despite constantly interacting through the phone, and it helps that the two actors on either end of their phones are people we wouldn’t mind rooting for.
Ride the Eagle is not the best indie comedy that Jack Johnson was involved in (that could very well be Drinking Buddies). It might not also be wholly original, which might not be something the cast and crew were gunning for, anyway. It is a mostly harmless movie with a winsome cast that is not too taxing on your brain and time.
We hope you're enjoying BRWC. You should check us out on our social channels, subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.