The Long Dumb Road

Movie review by
Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media
The Long Dumb Road Movie Poster Image
Swearing, drinking, pot in offbeat buddy road comedy.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Not really a message movie. You might be able to read something positive into Richard's surprising honesty and Nat's possible growth toward standing up for himself, but those are stretches.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters make small steps toward growth, but they're not really intended as role models.

Violence

Very brief bar fight. Non-brutal fistfight. Someone brandishes a gun.

Sex

Sex is discussed in some detail, and oral sex is shown in a non-explicit way.

Language

Pervasive profanity, including "f--k" and "s--t." Also "goddamn," "a--holes," "p---y," "d--k," "c--t," "bitch," and sexual descriptions.

Consumerism

A Prius is featured.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Much drinking of beer and whiskey, some pot smoking -- sometimes in a moving car (the passenger drinks, both driver and passenger smoke). Some drunkenness. Cigarette smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Long Dumb Road is a buddy road comedy about two people with very different temperaments who end up driving together across the country. Young photographer Nat (Tony Revolori) is heading to art school and ends up giving a ride to hard-partying, loose-cannon mechanic Richard (Jason Mantzoukas), whose wild nature and unrealistic expectations land them in hot water. Expect frequent strong language ("f--k," "s--t," and many others) and drinking/drugs, including drinking and smoking pot in a moving car. There's also a bit of mild violence (realistic fistfights), and sex is discussed in some detail; oral sex is shown in a non-explicit way. Taissa Farmiga, Grace Gummer, and Ron Livingston co-star.

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What's the story?

In THE LONG DUMB ROAD, young photographer Nat (Tony Revolori) is heading to California to start art school. When his van breaks down, he's helped by hard-partying, loose-cannon mechanic Richard (Jason Mantzoukas), and the two end up riding together. Richard's wild nature and unrealistic expectations get them into scrape after scrape. Taissa Farmiga, Grace Gummer, and Ron Livingston co-star.

Is it any good?

This comedy is the kind of buddy movie where you know the filter-free partner is going to find ways to screw up every situation, but you keep watching because the performance is funny. The Long Dumb Road is an episodic road movie with just enough character development for the trip to mean something, but not so much that it feels pat. Perhaps the best way to describe the movie's tone is "sub-gonzo." It has many setups that lead to you expect wild man Richard to go way over the top -- but while he does manage to constantly burn everything down, he still stays tethered to reality. (To give examples of how he blows situations up would spoil the bumpy trip; rest assured he finds a way.) Director/co-writer Hannah Fidell, expanding her earlier short (The Road), is wise to maintain that grounding; it makes the stakes feel more significant as she fools us again and again into thinking, "It might work out this time." Or, at least, "This doesn't have to be a total disaster." Much of the film's dialogue was reportedly improvised, which adds to the level of Fidell's directorial achievement but leaves unanswered whom to credit for exchanges such as "This is so stupid." "Right? Let's go do it!"

Revolori, who's been working pretty much nonstop since The Grand Budapest Hotel thrust him to a higher level, is a likable Everyman who seems invested in each moment. And Mantzoukas, so hilarious on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, ratchets down his crazy shtick just enough to fit into the reality of the film's universe. He comes across not as a predictable cliché but as someone with genuine problems. Livingston and Gummer do well, playing against type, and several Fidell regulars make appearances, including Farmiga in a brief but memorable turn. Long Dumb Road isn't exactly a laugh riot, but it's slightly more-grounded-than-usual world (for a road comedy), and the two leads make it a worthwhile trip.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the main characters in The Long Dumb Road. Do Nat and Richard grow or change significantly? Are they easy to judge as "good" or "bad," or are they something else? Do you consider either of them role models?

  • Does the film seem to judge the characters and their relationships? What's your take on them?

  • How are drinking and smoking portrayed in the film? Are they glamorized? Do they have consequences? Why does that matter?

Movie details

For kids who love to laugh

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