Don’t Make Me Go
Don’t Make Me Go Cast: John Cho, Mia Isaac
Don’t Make Me Go Director: Hannah Marks
Don’t Make Me Go Stars: 2.5/5
Think about all the road trip dramedy tropes there are that have been played out in films so far and you will find most of them in John Cho and Mia Isaac’s new film, Don’t Make Me Go which releases on Amazon Prime. Revolving around a father-daughter relationship, the film takes off with a voiceover that claims “You’re not gonna like the way this story ends. But I think you’re gonna like the story.” Considering how the story navigates itself towards a surprising climax, the opening warning isn’t all that wrong if one follows the first part of it. While staying true to its elements when it comes to its focus on the father-daughter relationship, Don’t Make Me Go finds itself hitting a roadblock in its third act that seems to change the whole experience.
If there’s one thing that most people get wrong when it comes to storytelling, it’s that they believe predictability is a bad thing. Although in my experience, when a common experience is shared with a vision that’s untapped, it still makes for a worthy watch. It’s like finding something new in a thrift store. Although most artists are afraid to serve something familiar, they often lose their way while trying to make it stand out from the rest and that’s something I find is the problem with a film like Don’t Make Me Go. In its simplest moments when it’s not second-guessing, its storyline, the film remains charming and heartfelt.
In Don’t Make Me Go, we meet Max (John Cho), a single father who is dealing with his daughter Wally’s (Mia Isaac) teenage antics. Amid the regular father-daughter banter, the film moves into another space as Max gets diagnosed with a life-threatening condition. After learning that the cause of his frequent headaches has been a tumour at the base of his skull that will be difficult to safely remove with the options of having a year to live or an extremely risky surgery, Max immediately gets consumed by the thought of Wally’s future without him in the picture. In the meantime, we learn that Max’s college reunion in New Orleans is weeks away and he believes that taking a road trip with his daughter there could help solve the situation, in the hopes that they run into her birth mother there, who walked out on Max and their daughter and married his former best friend. What entails ahead is a road trip filled with some speed bumps and some heartwarming moments.
Following his act in Searching, I’m convinced that John Cho may be the new onscreen dad that I’m willing to see more often given that there’s a sense of natural charm he brings with it. Much of the empathy that we feel for Max probably comes because of Cho’s comfortable act. You want to root for this single father to survive, to enjoy that father-daughter dance that he’s dreamed of since she was born. What the story lacks though is that it explores Max and Wally’s relationship without much depth or understanding. It’s expected that as an audience we connect with them with their regular banter but something seems oddly missing about their dynamic. For example, there’s zero effort taken to give their relationship any layers despite having the major element of race to explore
As for the cross-country trip that Max and Wally embark on, there’s one credit that director Hannah Marks completely deserves and that’s how well they capture the look and feel of the US States while shooting on locations in New Zealand. On the script front, This Is Us fame writer Vera Herbert pens the dramedy and while it’s an easygoing story for the most part, the third act completely sets the film out of motion. While we have experienced some of the most emotional drama with lead characters questioning the meaning of life and what’s left of it after being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, Herbert’s script surprisingly puts little effort into Max’s own understanding of the situation and his desperate attempt to ensure his daughter’s taken care of after his departure by her biological mother whom she hasn’t met all her life seems like a poor decision. I also miss the sincerity with which the father should have broken the big news to his daughter.
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In terms of performances while John Cho puts up an impressive act as Max who has lost a great deal of his personality while taking on the role of a parent for his daughter Wally. Cho’s honest performance also makes Max likeable even in his weakest moments such as the one where he reveals to his daughter the reason why her mother walked out on them. As for Mia Isaac, she delivers an energetic performance as Wally, for whom the world is her oyster. The actress’ performance irks a sense of affection for her character.
Don’t Make Me Go isn’t a film that will find its name being taken when one discusses films about father-daughter bonds simply because it doesn’t do enough to capture the layers of it. The film makes for a breezy watch in its lighter moments but stumbles poorly when the makers expect us to take it seriously. While it’s easy to cruise through the film in its modest bits, it’s the aftertaste of the climax that doesn’t sit well.
Source by www.pinkvilla.com