Ride The Eagle

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jane Fae

Ride The Eagle
"A great way to while away 90 minutes."

Well it's a nice set-up. A slightly different, if not entirely original premise.For in Ride the Eagle, Leif (Jake Johnson) finds he has been left a “conditional inheritance” when his estranged mother Honey (Susan Sarandon) dies. Conditional inheritance? Sure. It's where you get to inherit a thing, but only if you meet a set of specified conditions. And it's mostly legal

In this case, Leif gets to take over mum's exceedingly des res Yosemite cabin, and her dog; but only if he first completes an elaborate, and at times dodgy, to-do list.

Copy picture

Though even before he gets to the list – pre-recorded on VHS, which is how Susan Sarandon gets to be in the film, despite dying off-stage before it starts – Leif discovers an industrial scale stash of weed stacked away in Honey's store cupboards. He also receives a disturbing, threatening phone call from an anonymous caller.

On then to the list which is, as previously mentioned, on a pre-record. The purpose? As Honey explains: she's not been as good a mother as she might have wished. So this is about “all the things that are so important that I know and am going to pass on to you”.

This is artfully done, as Honey asks and demands response from Leif at various points through the tape, turning monologue into pseudo-dialogue.

Tasks. Expressing himself. Leaving an envelope on the pillow of an unknown neighbour. More serious, since Leif is still single: calling “the one that got away.” In this case, Audrey (D'Arcy Carden).

It is not long before it becomes obvious that Honey, for good reasons or bad, is now exerting rather more influence on Leif's life than she ever did while alive. Disruption is order of the day, as Leif is tumbled headlong into revenge, crime, survival skills and maybe, just maybe, a new relationship.

I will just interject at this point the observation that I thoroughly disapprove. I may have threatened my offspring with leaving my estate to my cat should they displease. But that is mere idle threat, designed to tease. Or is it?

This is something of a niche narrative, a movie genre containing but a few films, and some of them quite enjoyable. Like P.S. I Love You, a 2007 movie in which a husband leaves his wife a letter containing 10 messages intended to help ease her pain and help her start a new life. I found myself in two minds over that: it was simultaneously romantic and more than a little creepy. Controlling from beyond the grave.

I cannot approve. But, my guilty secret, I thoroughly enjoyed it and sniffled in all the right places

Same vibe. At least, similar vibe here. The relationship between Leif and Honey is interesting, maybe a little toxic. But the hope is that by the end of the movie there will be posthumous reconciliation. The slowly blossoming relationship between Leif and Audrey is good-natured, humorous and from the very first moments you are willing them to get together.

Then there is the other disruption: the sinister sub-plot set in motion by that first anonymous phone call as Leif arrived. Look out for sweet, irascible older gentleman Carl (J K Simmons) who, it turns out, played a much greater role in Honey's life than Leif ever knew.

Though thankfully, at no point in this film is the line “Lief, I am your father” uttered.

Sweet. Saccharine. Heart-warming. Just listen to me! But I have always been a fan of Susan Sarandon and this works well as a vehicle for her. As for the rest, was it not Noel Coward who observed: “strange how potent cheap music is”? Yep. I'm a sucker for a bargain. Cheap music. Cheap sentimentality. Cheap everything.

And if this is not exactly Tolstoy, it is a great way to while away 90 minutes. All credit to director/writer Jake Johnson Trent for putting this together. Also for the ending that you never saw coming. Of course you didn't! And an excellent soundtrack.

Reviewed on: 03 Oct 2021
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Leif is left with a conditional inheritance when his estranged mother dies. Before he can move into her picturesque Yosemite cabin, he has to complete her elaborate, and sometimes dubious, to-do list.

Director: Trent O'Donnell

Writer: Jake Johnson, Trent O'Donnell

Starring: Jake Johnson, Susan Sarandon, D'Arcy Carden, JK Simmons, Luis Fernandez-Gil

Year: 2021

Runtime: 88 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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Streaming on: Digital Download


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