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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of us lead extraordinary lives...
I've read most of the other reviews of this movie and many of the viewers didn't get the point. If you grew up as I did, in a family that was atypical and dysfunctional in the extreme, if you've ever been abandoned at an early age by a parent (as I was) and have held a grudge against that parent for cutting out (as I still do, although this movie has caused me to question...
Published on August 4, 2005 by Self-kerbed

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Christopher Walken Fans Will Enjoy This
This film, though not great is enjoyable if you enjoy the energy generated by Christopher Walken. He has an aura of intensity and foreboding that seems to draw you in. It's kind of mysterious and not many actors have it.
Published 10 months ago by Ernest


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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of us lead extraordinary lives..., August 4, 2005
By 
This review is from: Around the Bend (DVD)
I've read most of the other reviews of this movie and many of the viewers didn't get the point. If you grew up as I did, in a family that was atypical and dysfunctional in the extreme, if you've ever been abandoned at an early age by a parent (as I was) and have held a grudge against that parent for cutting out (as I still do, although this movie has caused me to question my attitude as nothing has before), if you've lived a life where you saw and were subjected to great violence at the hands of intelligent yet disturbed human beings who were your family members, people with addictions and PTSD, this movie will resonate for you in a very special way. I found all the characters engaging and intensely *real*. I am one of the last people to get hung up on sentimentality. For someone to call this movie 'syrupy' or 'cheesy' indicates to me that this person has never experienced great depth of emotion, has never seen someone they loved lash out in pain and insanity and has not done anything in their lives they've regretted and wished with all their heart and soul they could go back in time and have another chance to do over again. This is a movie for survivors, for people who need to learn forgiveness for others in their lives and forgiveness toward themselves. Christopher Walken is a magnificent being and he seems to shine in everything he does. But Michael Caine is also very engaging in this film, as are the other performers. There is not one bad performance in this movie. Yes, it is difficult to watch. Yes, the emotions are strong. No, it is not syrup or formula. This is an amazing movie. For some of us, this is not fiction -- it is a powerful portrayal of less-than-perfect and far from ordinary humanity. I believe this is one movie that will, over the years, become perceived as absolutely legendary. There is nothing wrong with introspection, other than the fact that it makes many people (Americans in particular) uncomfortable. Shallow people looking for to be passively entertained should stay away from this movie -- go elsewhere. Thoughtful people who have lived life, carry a few scars around and ponder the finer points of existence -- please buy this movie and show support for it.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sentimental journey . . ., August 16, 2005
This review is from: Around the Bend (DVD)
Fans of Christopher Walken, Michael Caine, and road movies will enjoy this indie film and overlook its sentimentality and trials of credibility. Walken, as a long-absent father returning unexpectedly at the doorstep of his grown son (Lucas), grandson (Bobo), and dying father (Caine), brings a time-ravaged, gritty presence to a film that keeps threatening to turn into a feature-length KFC commercial. Between Walken and Caine (who departs the film much too early), the film has an emotional grounding that makes it compelling even when the script will make dry-eyed viewers want to grimace.

Meanwhile, the New Mexico photography casts a glorious glow over the characters' journey across the desert Southwest and underscores a theme having to do with tribes, family loyalties, fathers and sons, and the importance of rituals. The music track is fine, the credits sequence reveals a spirit of warm generosity, and the DVD documentary of the film's production realistically reveals the tedium of working on a movie set. Altogether, there's more than enough to like. Give it a go.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far from perfect but it certainly deserves some praise, March 19, 2005
This review is from: Around the Bend (DVD)
This 2004 film wasn't nominated for any Oscars. I can see why. It's a bit maudlin, the pace is slow and it is too introspective for its own good. But Christopher Walken did win a Golden Satellite Award (whatever that is) for best actor and another Best Actor Award at the Montreal Film Festival. I'm glad, because it certain deserves some praise although it is far from a perfect film.

The film opens with Michael Caine. a cantankerous old man who lives with is adult grandson and young great grandson, planning his own demise. As he's been an archeologist all his life, he gets quite creative as he talks about tribal rituals. Within the first few minutes of the film, the small family gets a visitor. It is Christopher Walken, his son, who has been out of touch with the family for many years. Michel Caine is elated, although the grandson, Josh Lucas, is a bit put off. After all, Christopher Walken, his father, had deserted him when he was only 2-years old and he still bears resentment. The young grandson, played by Jonah Bobo is delighted, however. He's only six year old and to him, and, to him, the world is a wonder.

Soon the four men are having dinner in Michael Caine's favorite restaurant, the local Kentucky Fried Chicken. Later, Christopher Walken say is he is leaving the next day. And this sets Michael Caine in motion. He commits suicide in a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant and leaves his family instructions for a complicated ritual which not only involves mixing his ashes with that of his dog, but also traveling around and scattering ashes in a wide variety of places that mean a lot to him. Also included in this ritual are many meals together in various Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants.

Some of what follows is quite comical. Other parts are melodramatic and play like a soap opera. The acting was great, especially Christopher Walken. Usually his parts are very small, but this time the whole story wrapped around him and he was in almost every scene. Naturally, family secrets are revealed. And there is a lot of bonding. I even had a few giggles during some of the lighter scenes. And, after the film was over, I found myself thinking about for a long time. I'm surprised that I liked it as much as I did. But I just can't help my positive feelings for this film and I therefore recommend it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching, Funny, Sad Film, September 13, 2005
This review is from: Around the Bend (DVD)
I love this movie. I cryed when it was over. Christopher Walken is amazing as a father who left his son a long time ago to be brought together by the wishes of his late father. Josh Lucas is really good as the son and Michael Caine is great in his short role as the grandfather who wants his family to be normal and happy. The little boy played by Jonah Bobo is also great. Walken dances his heart out in this film and its a memorable scene. If you want to see a true gripping family drama with some funny moments thrown in, this is your movie. Highly Highly Recommended.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, tender, worthy to be seen., March 22, 2005
By 
Heather LaRee (Central Coast, California) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Around the Bend (DVD)
I wasn't sure what this movie was about when I rented it but I so love Christopher Walken, I was willing to take a chance. I'm delighted I did as this film -- so wonderfully written -- reaches deeply into topics and subjects that rang true for me.

The writing, acting and directing are all in sync and I'd watch it again to appreciate its layered and textured messages.

I found it refreshing, original and courageous. Thank you Jordan Roberts for working it through, working it out and giving these outstanding actors the opportunity to deliver their gifts. Well done.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Men, Bonding, February 25, 2005
By 
This review is from: Around the Bend (DVD)
AROUND THE BEND is a tender, warm, funny/sad film which, as directed by Jordan Roberts, makes for a solid, heartwarming evening of viewing.

The simple story is that of four generations of the Lair family men: odd, grumpy but lovable Henry (Michael Caine), the prodigal son Turner (Christopher Walken), the durable grandson deserted-by-his wife Jason (Josh Lucas), and great-grandson Zach (Jonah Bobo). Turner has been in prison but at Henry's call he arrives in Los Angeles just in time to make the old Henry happy that his long disjointed family is reunited. Henry promptly dies, leaving a bizarre will to which the remaining triad must abide.

With much hesitation on the part of Jason who is still angry about being deserted by his father at age two, the odd threesome jump into the van and begin a road trip to fulfill Henry's wishes about how his (and Henry's now dead and cremated dog's) ashes should be distributed to the winds. This dying wish, contained in an oh-so-funny Kentucky Colonel's Fried Chicken set of bags, serves to force the threesome into erasing old wounds and bonding in the most underplayed way. It is only if these last wishes of Henry are obeyed that his contribution to the world can be recognized.

Each of the fine actors gives this small story his best and the result is a allow yourself to be vulnerable to such feelings! Grady Harp, February 2005
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intimate, June 19, 2006
This review is from: Around the Bend (DVD)
This is what is known as a "mid-sized movie", full of recognizable, but good, character actors, engaging dialog, strong intimacy, and no need to dazzle and impact a viewpoint of the audience. As that, it is perfect.

The plot involves four generations of the Lair family, a cooky great-grandfather who deals with his impending death by thinking up alternative funerals, a grandfather who has been missing for decades due to a history of alcoholism and theivery, a son who "just wants to be normal" (we always know how well that works in family-driven films...), and a grandson who wants to go along for the ride because it will be fun. Once the grandfather (Walken) comes home, the great-grandfather makes some plans... only he has to die to make sure his progenitors will carry it through. Enter a roadtrip, some spice-of-life, and a generous heaping of self-discovery, and voila, you get the prototype for this film.

I think what's interesting about this movie is that it's full of dazzling panoramic longshots of New Mexican sunsets, and yet in those shots maintains a close intimacy with the characters. Intimacy is the defining word in every case for this movie, as even when the characters are trying their darnedness to reject their family, their words bleed a need to be together. And they all know it.

This movie isn't the type to last on the conscious of many viewers because it's so quiet and devoted, but it has strong sticking power to those few who really enjoy its color and colorful characters.

--PolarisDiB
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Build-up, But Led to Nothing!, November 26, 2004
Christopher Walken is the star of "Around the Bend" and he is one of my favorite actors, still. He didn't get to make a speech, something he does in "True Romance," "Pulp Fiction," and "Gigli," just to name a few, but this is not that kind of character. In all of those movies, he was only in it for about five minutes or so, but this one he has the most screen time, because after all, he's the star. The problem with "Around the Bend" was it's lame ending. The entire movie is building up to something that his character was hiding all these years, but what it was, wasn't anything that I would rave about. Josh Lucus is in it, in probably his best role that I've seen, because you can't call "Sweet Home Alabama" great. Of course, Micheal Caine is always good, if not great, in this is one of his goods. It is a short lenght, about eighty minutes or so, and I was pretty much entertained throughout. Strongly dramatic, and briefly comic, "Around the Bend" is worth your time at the movies, but only if your not expecting a masterpiece.

Josh Lucus plays Jason, who is seprated from his wife for the time being. He lives with his grandfather Henry, and is raising his young son Zach. Henry is being cared for by Katrina, who is a live in care-taker, and also the women that Henry has been watching, VERY closely. Henry raised Jason because his real father, Turner, was arrested years ago, and suddenly, now, he comes back. He wants to see his son, and try and make things right. Jason is amazed to see his father, and Zach is amazed to see that his grandfather isn't dead like Jason told him. Jason isn't that happy to see him, especially after learning that he is going to be leaving the very next day. The four generations of the family go out to eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the next day Henry, and his dog, dies. In his will, Henry creates a "map" that will led to something, and at certain places they all eat at the nearest Kentucky Fried Chicken, and then scatter some of the ashes of him and the dog. Turner wants to do it, because Henry never asked him to do anything in his life, but Jason doesn't want to do it, because he is missing work. He just wants to end the entire thing as quick as possible. As Turner and Jason work on their relationship, it becomes apparent that Henry is leading them somewhere to fix there relationship, and what this secret is, isn't all that great, but it does get the story rolling. . .

It's almost impossible not to like Christopher Walken, even when he is playing a character that you are unsure about from the very beginning. Like I said, the ending is the biggest problem, and that could have gone through the rewriting process a few more times. It's sad throughout, because you soon realize that they can't have a happy ending, because Turner was out of Jason's life for so long. Even though it was his father, he was a stranger. I did like the reason for Turner coming back to see his son, but I don't want to say anything to ruin it. "Around the Bend" was rated R for language only, but they could have edited it for a PG-13, because this is movie that everybody should see. I've heard some useless language, but this movie is the ultimate, and it's not even said that many times. "Around the Bend" is a good thing to watch on a Saturday afternoon, and it's sweet and comic undertones are the foundation for this story. Christopher Walken is amazing, as usual, and he proves that in this movie, a five-minute speech sometimes isn't enough of him.

ENJOY!

Rated R for language.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just odd enough to be enjoyable, March 12, 2005
By 
This review is from: Around the Bend (DVD)
Ordinarily I don't like movies like this, but it was just odd enough to be enjoyable. There have been countless "generations bonding" movies about and for women, but this is a rare example of a grandfather, father, and son coming together after years of extrangement.

The DVD has 3 main extra features. The portion on deleted scenes has analysis of theories of pacing and focus and applies it to why the director chose so much trimming. I agreed with most of his choices except for the early microbus scenes. I think the movie needed them. There is also a "making of" documentary which was a little too self congradulatory (as they usually are.) Finally, there is a commentary reel which isn't too bad.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good cast, good story, funny and tugs at your heart, September 10, 2006
This review is from: Around the Bend (DVD)
What a great movie for me to discover, and I wonder why I missed it before. A great cast with Michael Caine and Christopher Walken. Both have great roles, good scripts, and good acting. Michale Caine plays the Grandfather who has a shattered family that re-unite at the very end of his life. Christopher Walken is the absentee son who returns unexpectedly, Josh Lucas the grandson, and Johna Bobo the great grandson. With Caine's death, he sends his "Tribe" on a journey as his last wish. With the journey comes the runiting of a family, mending of souls, and a whole lot of Fried Chicken. This has plenty of laughs, and several twists. Even though Michael Caine is in the movie for only about 15 minutes, his role has got to be one of his best pieces ever done. Christopher Walken is his own stellar self, funny yet dark, just what his role needed. Josh Lucas plays his role of bitter son to a T, and Jonah Bobo is excellent in the innocent child slot. I highly recommend this movie.
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Around the Bend
Around the Bend by Jordan Roberts (DVD - 2005)
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