Volume 22, Number 31 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 11 - 17, 2009
Koch on Film
By Ed Koch
“The Road” (-)
It has been my lot recently, for a number of weeks, to watch what I had hoped would be good or “plus” movies — only to end up panning them. It ain’t my fault; and, as the age-old adage goes, I implore you — don’t kill the messenger. This film, regrettably, I must consign to the ash heap.
The story is that of what follows the near end of civilization occurring after a cataclysmic tragedy which is never fully explained. It could have been a nuclear war or a volcano eruption. The sets, which are of rural America, are of devastated areas where the trees remaining are shortened in height and falling down or are already lying on the ground.
The two principals are the unnamed father played by Viggo Mortensen and his son played by Kodi Smit-McPhee, who is about 12 to 14 years old. They trudge along the roads trying to reach the sea and avoid marauders who are looking for food and engaged in cannibalism. The boy calls his dad “Poppa” and often asks the question, “Are we the good guys?” Poppa always answers yes and in response to a second question which is, “Will we ever engage in cannibalism?,” answers no. There is a flashback which shows the boy’s mother who disappears early in the film, played by Charlize Theron. She is totally wasted in this film.
On two occasions when they encounter lone travelers, the boy is far more decent in his responses to their needs than is Poppa — who is threatening and protective of the food needs of his son and himself.
It all sounds like it could have been fascinating, particularly when it becomes clear that Poppa — who has been wounded by someone using a bow and arrow — will soon die and leave sonny boy alone in this cruel world. But, it wasn’t fascinating at all.
The movie looked like it cost $500 to make, excluding actors’ salaries, which were worth another $500. I was bored to death, but became a little involved when the father and son find a can of soda and upon drinking it, the boy says, “It tastes bubbly,” and I thought, maybe I should go get a soda and some popcorn to make this experience more palatable. But I didn’t, because I wanted to report that I had seen the whole movie and nothing occurred that changed my mind to cause me to do anything but warn you against seeing it.
Rated R. 2 hours. Playing at, among other places, Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema (143 East Houston St.). For screening times, call 212-330-8182.