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  Stretch Shady Chauffeur
Year: 2014
Director: Joe Carnahan
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Chris Pine, Ed Helms, James Badge Dale, Brooklyn Decker, Jessica Alba, Ray Liotta, David Hasselhoff, Randy Couture, Mathew Willig, Shaun Toub, Jason Mantzoukas, Christopher Michael Holley, Mindy Robinson, Norman Reedus, Katie Kerr
Genre: Comedy, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Do you like stories about chance and luck and all that kind of thing? Here's one which may tickle you, and it concerns Stretch (Patrick Wilson) who met his girlfriend purely by coincidence when she smashed her car into his in the street, sending him flying out of the window to land on the tarmac. It was the beginning of a beautiful romance, or so he thought, but one year later as they were just having sex, she broke the news to him that broke his heart: she was leaving him for a football player with far more prospects than Stretch ever would. One year after that and he was single, holding down a dead end job as a limousine driver, and kidding himself he could make a career as an actor...

Which is mere preamble to one of those movies which proceeds over the course of one night, not a hugely novel idea, plenty of movies do, but this was one which adhered to the particular subgenre that was largely forged in the nineteen-eighties, melding off the wall comedy with an unpredictable thriller element to give its lead character a memorable time from dusk till dawn, and with any luck entertain us in the audience as well. Alas, for director Joe Carnahan Stretch failed to take its place in the cult pantheon with After Hours or Into the Night, among others, as instead of gaining some kind of profile thanks to a theatrical release, it limped out on digital platforms and to drum up publicity he offered refunds to anyone who rented and didn't enjoy it.

Nice gimmick, but potential viewers were suspicious of movies that were meant to gain a more prestigious release but didn't, and it remained fairly obscure in spite of Carnahan helming a few movies that his target audience would doubtless have heard of. That suspicion rested with one performer in particular, Chris Pine who played a wealthy businessman client of Stretch's and leads him a merry dance around after dark Los Angeles. Don't look for Pine's name in the credits, as he may have been taking what amounted to the second lead (Wilson was in every scene otherwise), but those who watched this wondered if his utterly out there, apparently drug-fuelled reading of his role was the reason why the studio preferred to downplay his presence.

And downplay the entire film as a result. Pine's Roger Karos is introduced wearing practically nothing except a parachute, so his behind is on display, landing on Stretch's limo, and when the driver gets a look at him he sees what appears to be a stoned hippy, with long, straggly hair and unkempt beard, not to mention a glazed, too happy expression. If this was a better known project would it have ruined Pine's career? That's difficult to believe, though Carnahan's inclusion of Burt Reynolds-esque outtakes over his end credits which largely featured the star cracking up at his own jokes (along with a curious preoccupation with Wilford Brimley) made it seem as if there wasn't much acting going on and he really was out of his mind at the time of filming.

He was probably amused at the situation he found himself in, but it might have you musing over what you had been watching, even if you had enjoyed it. Apart from Pine, there was an ensemble of actors, some more famous than others, who conveyed a rather too pleased with their outrageousness demeanour throughout, as if this were the sort of film ready made to be cut up for clips on YouTube and not presenting a more coherent experience when you watched it all in one go. But it wasn't that bad, there was a certain verve that everyone brought though it was a slightly empty experience if you didn't find it as amusing as everyone on the screen evidently did. David Hasselhoff showed up as himself once again, so ponder on the dilemma of the actor who can now only play himself in self-spoofing parts, and Ray Liotta offered a reading of callous celebrity too, but also provided a plot point with it. Jessica Alba was relegated to an office for almost her entire screen time, only to be thrown a movie movie ending before those credits rolled. It was... OK. Music by Ludwig Göransson.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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