Now on Hulu, Ride the eagle is a miniNew girl reunion, with star Jake Johnson once again working with recurring series director Trent O’Donnell. The movie came together in the midst of the pandemic – they collaborated on a script, spoke to Susan Sarandon and JK Simmons about supporting roles, and shot it quickly and dirty under strict Covid, pre-vaccine protocol. The result is a somewhat stereotypical indie quirk in which Johnson plays a scoreless bongo player dressed in a wetsuit who is set to inherit his longtime mother’s house, but only if he jumps through. a bunch of boring hoops as stated in his will – with sweet, surprisingly funny results.
‘RISE THE EAGLE’: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The essential: Honey (Sarandon) was a nut – in the past tense. She’s dead now. Cancer. She would not accept any treatment. She ditched her son Leif (Johnson) when he was 12 so she could join a cult, and now, I repeat, he’s a aimless bongo player in overalls, so it clearly crippled him psychologically. She left him her very beautiful cabin in the mountains, where she spent her life painting fucking awful pictures and surely paying a lot of money for this place, who knows how. Leif ventures up there in his broken down Econoline van and finds nunchakus and a whip in his mother’s bedroom, and her closets full of sacks and sacks and pots and pots of weed. Oh, and he finds his videotaped will stating that his inheritance is contingent on the completion of a series of tasks, all of which seem designed to get him out of his deep lazy rut.
These tasks include breaking into an unidentified person’s house and leaving a note, killing and eating their own food, calling “the one who ran away”, etc. I’m glad or sad that we don’t get the chance to see one of these surely amazing and terrible music sessions – so he starts to make his last wishes come true. Most notably, he calls out his ex, Audrey (D’Arcy Carden), and their jokes are so witty you just want them to end it up and reunite for a smoochy moment.
Meanwhile, the person whose Leif house was in no way obligated to break and enter appears to be stalking him, slightly terrorizing him in a funny way. This person is sure to make their presence known soon enough. Oh, and Leif’s mate along the way is Nora, a black lab who’s sweet and cute and lends adorable doggy vibes to all of the movie’s sweet, sad little moments. So, does Leif have the house? No spoilers, but really, what’s going to happen – Honey becomes a zombie, comes out of the grave, and steals the keys from her if he doesn’t follow her from beyond the grave?
What movies will this remind you of? : Ride the eagle is sort of Lynn Shelton Lite – it’s in the same vein as mumblecore talkative-funny dramas like Your sister’s sister or the Duplass brothers. ‘ Jeff who lives at home.
Performances to watch: Despite a typically strong JK Simmons moment wearing a decent part of Ride the eaglethe emotional weight of, and a slightly insane Sarandon appearing entirely on a VHS tape – someone introduced these two as a bickering couple in a dialogue-rich comedy, please – the real star here is Carden (of The right place glory), which lights a comedy firecracker under the film’s hindquarters.
Memorable dialogue: Leif looks Nora in the eye: “I wish I had a dog’s brain half the time, that would make life easier.”
Gender and skin: Nothing. TBATCPTF: too busy adhering to the Covid protocol for F—.
Our opinion : Ride the eagle is conceptually ridiculous, but quite funny in execution. It’s a bit of a gimmick, and it’s yet another man-child movie on a long arc of arrested development – although it’s more subtle than, say, This is my boy. Johnson and O’Donnell’s storyline keeps it afloat with effective bits of comedy and poignantness. It doesn’t rely on cute dog reaction photos or easy jokes; it’s smarter than that, maintaining a cheerful tone and avoiding tearful traps as Leif deals with complicated feelings, the passing of a mother he barely knew, a mother trying to right her past mistakes with posthumous parenthood.
The movie has a little something to say about grief and personal growth, wraps around a handful of solid jokes, soaks up a bit of NorCal’s beautiful rugged mountain scenery, and then calls it a day. Nothing too heavy, nothing too far-fetched. It’s a nice, small-scale character piece, a bit artificial and a bit predictable, but not unforgivable. He looks and feels good. It’s not going to change the world – it just delivers a few laughs, a tear or two, and lots of warmth. It’s a good movie, a good movie, and I mean it sincerely.
Our call: Ride the eagle is a bit of entertaining and satisfying optimism that comes down easily. He sets modest goals and achieves them. Stream it.
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Learn more about his work at johnserbaatlarge.com.
Flux Ride the eagle