Diane Ford (Michelle Monaghan), a vivacious and successful independent truck driver, leads a carefree life of long-haul trucking, one night stands and all-night drinking with Runner (Nathan Fillion, Serenity, Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog; Cast) until the evening her estranged 11-year-old son, Peter (Jimmy Bennett, young James Kirk in Star Trek) is unexpectedly dropped at her door.
Peter hasn't seen his mother since he was a baby and wants to live with Diane as little as she wants him, but they are stuck with each other at least for now, while his father Len (Benjamin Bratt) is in the hospital.
Burdened with this new responsibility and seeing the life of freedom she's fought for now jeopardized, Diane steps reluctantly into her past and looks sidelong at an uncharted future that is not as simple or straight forward as she had once believed possible.
Michelle Monaghan's commanding performance in the title role carries Trucker
--and that's a good thing, because there's not an awful lot happening in director-writer James Mottern's 2008 film other than the characters and their relationships to themselves and those around them. Monaghan's Diane Ford is a tough cookie, a loner who passes the time with long hauls, heavy drinking, and not-even-one-night stands--if this woman was interested in commitment, she wouldn't have walked out 10 years earlier on her infant son and his father (Benjamin Bratt, good in a limited role). But now her ex is seriously ill and his girlfriend has her own family issues to deal with, leaving Diane to look after 11-year-old Peter for the time being… or maybe longer. There are no surprises in store here, as mother and son, as expected, mix about as well as oil and water. (If this were a contest to determine who is less mature, Diane would win in a landslide; unable to even call the kid by his name--"dude" is the best she can do--she could hardly be less maternal and more tactless). Anyone who doesn't think that will change hasn't seen many movies. But a predictable outcome doesn't necessarily preclude enjoying the ride; the performances by Monaghan, young Jimmy Bennett (as Peter), and Nathan Fillion (as Runner, Diane's drinking buddy and would-be lover) are enough to sustain our interest, and the film's lack of meretricious sentimentality is refreshing. --Sam Graham