The Open Road
Studio: Anchor Bay
US DVD Release Date: November 17, 2009
Rated: PG-13 (for some language)
Running Time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, 1.33:1 full screen
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English (SDH), Spanish
Movie: 3.5 out of 5
A mother's dying wish to her son is to see her ex-husband one last time before undergoing a risky heart operation. That is the basic premise for The Open Road, a comedy-drama road movie from writer-director (and Wim Wenders protege) Michael Meredith.
Mary Steenburgen plays the mother, Katherine, who manipulates her son Carlton (Justin Timberlake), a minor league baseball player in a slump, into tracking down his father, Kyle “Lonestar” Garrett (Jeff Bridges), a retired major league baseball star making a living from appearances at merchandising conventions who flees from responsibility at the first opportunity. Carlton asks Lucy (Kate Mara), a “friend” he still has feelings for, to travel with him to Ohio for moral support as he tries to reconnect with his estranged father and bring him back to Texas. Things, obviously, do not go as planned. Kyle feigns losing his wallet at the airport, forcing the three to rent a Hummer H3, which Kyle finds rather cramped for such an oversized vehicle, and thus sets up the road trip aspect of the story, as they soon get lost and are forced to spend more time together than they had originally bargained for, and Carlton realizes his worst fear, that he is more like his father than he had thought.
The Open Road is Timberlake's first leading role, and he mostly succeeds, but unfortunately, he cannot compete with his co-stars. Bridges is a very dependable actor, and shines quite well in this small film as an aging man who has never quite matured beyond his twenties. Steenburgen is convincingly manipulative and Mara is lovely as Carlton's former love hoping he'll come to his senses. Lyle Lovett (as a bartender) and Harry Dean Stanton (as Carlton's grandfather and Katherine's father) round out the supporting cast.
Some may find the film uneventful and manipulative, but I found it entertaining, nonetheless.
Video: 3 out of 5
Anchor Bay has included both 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full screen transfers on a single-sided, dual-layered DVD. The widescreen version is free of dirt or debris, with fairly accurate flesh tones. The image does appear soft at times, and contrast varies from location to location, but this is more likely due to the film's low budget and use of existing lighting. The 1.33:1 full screen version was not viewed.
Audio: 3 out of 5
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, encoded at 448 kbps, is mostly front-centered, as this is a dialogue-driven film. Music and ambient effects are spread across the left, right, and surrounds, with little to no LFE present.
Special Features: 3 out of 5
Audio Commentary by Michael Meredith and Jeff Bridges: This is an interesting track to listen to, as both men discuss making the movie and how they both drew on incidents in their personal lives dealing with living in the shadow of a famous father (Meredith is the son of NFL great Don Meredith), although they do seem to go off topic at times and there are moments of silence as the two forget they were recording a commentary.
Behind the Scenes of The Open Road: This is a standard EPK fluff piece with interviews of the cast and crew that never goes into any real depth. (6:45)
Theatrical Trailer: The film's trailer, in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Overall: 3.5 out of 5
The Open Road is an entertaining little independent movie with big stars, and gets a decent treatment on DVD with good video and audio, as well as an interesting commentary track by the writer-director and leading actor.