MOVIE REVIEW: “The Daytrippers” stars Hope Davis (About Schmidt, American Splendor), Anne Meara (Night at the Museum, Reality Blues), Parker Posey (Scream 3, Superman Returns), Liev Schreiber (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Spotlight), Pat McNamara (Airplane II: The Sequel, Sleepers), Stanley Tucci (Big Night, Julie & Julia), and Campbell Scott (Roger Dodger, Singles). It is written and directed by Greg Mottola (Adventureland, Superbad). After finding a hidden love note in her bedroom, Eliza (Davis) begins to question if her husband is cheating on her. Believing that she should go into the city and confront her husband about the issue, Eliza’s mom Rita (Meara) packs the family, and Eliza’s sister’s boyfriend Carl (Schreiber), into a car to go with her for support.
Kind of a random feature to review on this site, “The Daytrippers” was a last-minute find one Friday night on HBO Max. It’s thumbnail included a very young Liev Schreiber with the one and only Anne Meara, sparking my interested as to why these two would be in a picture together. The movie itself is the directorial debut of Greg Mottola, who brought us Adventureland, Superbad, Paul, and (more recently) Keeping Up with the Joneses. It’s a charming flick with a simple story and fun ensemble cast, which includes the likes of Hope Davis, Parker Posey, Schreiber, Meara, and Pat McNamara. All of them bolster the story in a true, raw fashion, coupled with the off-the-cuff, handheld style filmmaking that Mottola enforced. I had a good time with “The Daytrippers.” It’s one of those films that you watch on a rainy day, with good fun to make you smile and enough of an emotional punch to leave you feeling. Davis leads the cast as a woman who suspects her husband to be cheating on her. Getting her family involved, they head out to the city to confront the husband face-to-face, but end up going all over the place since they cannot find him at work. What’s filled in the middle of this mystery is a multiple-character study, with a focus in a few particular themes. The strongest of which exude from Schreiber’s Carl Petrovic, who constantly gives his thoughts on the class system of the United States, politics, and literature. I’m unsure what Mottola’s thoughts are on these subjects, but he has to ponder on them enough for them to be as enforced as they are (the topics are also brought up by others, particularly novelist characters). One critic I read on the film said it right: this is a Woody-Allen-lite movie. It may seem contrived from time to time, and the dialogue may mostly make up of big monologues, but at its core is a story of love turned cold, and how controlling/uncaring certain people who represent this “love” can be. Amidst the drama of it all is also great humor; I found myself laughing numerous times, mainly at Meara’s Rita Malone. She was spectacular in this, and I’m sure everyone has a person like her in their life. The direction Mottola took of making the story handheld worked towards the humor immensely, as it added an extra layer to see our characters run through the streets in long takes. Of course, there were a few moments where it became too much (a specific emotional scene at the third act was handled obnoxiously in my opinion, as the camera couldn’t figure out where it wanted to position itself, let alone who to give focus to). But for the most part, Mottola did a solid job leading “Daytrippers” to be something special. I’m sure most people won’t like the ending, as it seems to conclude without much closure (and lean on a relationship that wasn’t so much at the forefront), but with a second viewing I think it would become clearer as to what Mottola intended with it. I for one am iffy on how it ends, but the journey leading up to the finale worked well, and for an hour and a half I enjoyed myself. “The Daytrippers” is a fun, small film with a great cast and good laughs. I’d recommend it. FINAL SCORE: 86%= Juicy Popcorn