Stretch (2014) – Review

Directed by Joe Carnahan
Written by Joe Carnahan
Starring Patrick Wilson, Jessica Alba, Chris Pine, Brooklyn Decker
A hard-luck limo driver struggling to go straight and pay off a debt to his bookie takes on a job with a crazed passenger whose sought-after ledger implicates some seriously dangerous criminals.

Not the first movie, even this year, to feature an out of work actor driving a limo for a living. Joe Carnahan brings us a day in the life of man down on his luck and six thousand dollars short of safety.
Stretch is billed as a comedy and it does indeed raise the odd wry chuckle, but what really impresses most is the script and the performances. Carnahan even makes the likes of David Hasselhoff look less comical and more dangerous than most could hope to achieve and Wilson’s main turn as the eponymous Stretch is brilliantly delivered and fizzingly authentic. Maybe you can identify with him, if like me, you have maybe had some of the same life experiences. Maybe you can’t, but still, he is a canvas that has been painted deliberately to exude something filled with an inscrutable everydayness in a city where normality is if not frowned upon, then most certainly not seen as profitable, or even worthy of much note.
Carnahan’s story is only a couple of short steps away from being outright comic in it’s plotting, although less-so with its well-delivered and finely-tuned script which allows the admittedly talented cast to deliver their lines with hard-boiled gusto and ravaging relish. As with Pattinson’s performance in Maps To The Stars, it seems the only place that makes working as a limo driver worthwhile is in Los Angeles, where the chance to make your dreams come true are maybe as close as your next ride.
The film simmers throughout but maybe comes off the boil slightly about half way through when seemingly looking for inspiration, but the continual references to a town littered with its struggling unemployed acting masses are consistently amusing and a get out of jail free card when the plot struggles to find footing. As the film progresses, it begins to lose what seemed to be the natural, effortless cool of the first act, as the consequences of Stretch’s actions start to catch up with him testing the patience of those in the audience that had already become used to a film that has apparently turned out to be much better than they were initially anticipating.

Overall, Stretch enjoys some exhilarating highs and slightly too many tiresome lows to call it an outright success. It’s kitschy enough, however, to make it interesting for those that appreciate a more edgy approach to their comedy and is cool enough to probably gather enough momentum with audiences, albeit limited, to become something of a cultish success.

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