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"The Road" Review

To call The Road the "Feel Bad Movie of the Year" is easy; to understand why they bothered to make a feature film out of Cormac McCarthy's Oprah Book Club pick (and Pulitzer Prize-winning) novel is harder to figure. Even with the built-in fan base for this well-regarded best-seller, expecting people to shell out the cash for tickets, snacks, babysitters, whatever, to watch Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee starving to death in a post-Apocalyptic wasteland devoid of life and hope is a tall request. (Even The Cure makes happy music now, you know?)

Some unnamed cataclysm was decimated the world, killing all the animals and plants, and other than the Man and Boy (as they were called in the book, which I've listened to about half of the audio version), the only other survivors seem to be predatory road gangs and cannibalistic clans. The two trudge along, stumbling into misfortune after misfortune in the gray wastes and by the end I was desperately in need of watching Chicago or something lighter like Wall-E.

The problem with most post-Apocalyptic movies is that beyond the protagonists there never seem to be any other types than monsters and victims and The Road is no exception. At one point, they stumble over another cannibal camp and witness a rather clean looking mother and child getting hunted down. Assuming it's been 8-10 years since Armageddon, how did those two manage to survive all this time only to get trapped so foolishly? Another encounter in which our pair are ambushed ends abruptly when you'd think there'd at least be a conversation along the lines of, "Why the hell are you shooting at us?!?"

Some environmental wackos have glommed onto The Road as a cautionary parable about ecological destruction but that's just stupid like they are. The speculative consensus is that the disaster is either a comet/asteroid strike or super-volcano eruption, how is this mankind's fault to prevent? As a story of the human spirit enduring in the face of certain doom, it works somewhat but I think that despite looking good (in a terrible manner) and being well-acted, McCarthy's spare prose just doesn't work when literally presented on the screen with the specificity films portray.

Score: 5/10. Catch it on cable.


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