Ride the Eagle

Follow this list, and things will be funny and nice.

Jake Johnson is known to TV fans as a cast member of “New Girl,” but to me, my favorite roles from him come from “Let’s Be Cops”(don’t judge), “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Drinking Buddies,” and “Jurassic World.” His worst roles came from “The Mummy” and “Tag,” both of which wasted his talents.

“Ride the Eagle,” his first movie role since “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” is an independent comedy, and a good one that joins the good list I’ve mentioned. he co-wrote this film with director Trent O’Donnell, and he adds a personality to his character, as well as some good laughs and honest sweetness.

In the movie, Johnson plays a stoner and conga drummer named Leif, who finds out that his mother, whom he calls Honey (Susan Sarandon), has passed away, and left him her cabin. But there’s a catch: he has to do a To-Do list in the cabin. If he doesn’t complete that list, which she calls a “conditional inheritance,” he won’t get the cabin.

The list she provides for him requires a VHS tape and a few envelopes with various tasks. He has to take a canoe across a lake to express his feelings, he has call his ex-girlfriend Audrey (D’Arcy Carden), who just got out of another relationship, he has to learn how to survive in the wild, he has to see his music in a different light, and he has to travel to her favorite spot.

Leif was able to connect more with his dog Nora than his actual mother. That’s basically why, at first, he doesn’t feel sad about her demise. But you can easily tell he’ll warm up eventually.

The most predictable scenes involve a man in a yellow jacket stalking the main protagonist, because you can tell from an early phone call and on the poster that JK Simmons is that man. His name is Carl and both he and honey were lovers, but even he had some problems with her. Aside from that obvious guess, he does have his moments.

“Ride the Eagle” is not something you’ve heard of, because it’s an independent feature (duh), but as long as you read my reviews, you might find this in your grasp. I think you should give it a chance, because of how Johnson is able to find empathy within himself, and how he’s able to have a sense of humor simultaneously. The supporting work from Simmons, Sarandon, Carden, and Luis Fernadez-Gil (as Leif’s band manager) also brings out the best of his character. They’re smart, charming, and humorous.

As I was almost done watching this movie, I was reminded of how better “Half Brothers” would have been if one of the main characters wasn’t so negative and cynical about the dead father’s scavenger hunt. “Ride the Eagle” cuts back on the cynicism, and takes it delicate steps in allowing its main protagonist to process his emotions. And even when it wants to be sentimental, it has to be funny at times. But unlike most mainstream comedies, it’s neither predictable nor mean-spirited. It’s mostly honest, and that’s what I expect out of comedies.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

In Select Theaters and On Demand

Categories: comedy, Drama

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