Around The Bend Jordan Roberts

Looking to frighten your Women's Studies prof? Look no further. This sentimental dog piles on every male weepie cliché in the manual while affirming the father's authority even when he's a jerk, with a few caricatured females thrown in for yucks. Josh Lucas plays an uptight banker who was abandoned as a child by his junkie father (Christopher Walken); the father suddenly appears on the son's doorstep just in time for the eccentric grandfather (Michael Caine) to kick and send them on an ashes-scattering road-trip ritual for their inheritance. It's all about forgiveness, apparently. Walken doesn't so much as murmur the words "mea culpa" before he's dragging the rightly recalcitrant Lucas (and his annoyingly wise beyond his years son Jonah Bobo) across the countryside, but it's understood that whatever daddy did was okay largely because he was daddy. And despite the mild Starbucks franchise ambiance, the "loosen up" message comes across like an alcoholic goading you to drink — something you might do if only it didn't mean satisfying a jerk. Fall into the patriarchal line, it says, and stop whining. Women are completely beyond the purview of this film, which relegates them to role of comic relief: Glenne Headley is humiliated as an excitable au pair, and a feeble-minded older woman gets played for uneasy laughs. We all know what the main event is, but even the fighters can't go two rounds without getting winded. Extras include a director's commentary, which points out all the bad symbolism and Syd Field commonplaces; an hour-long making-of featurette that's more observational than most and outshines the movie; a deleted scene reel with more pretentious blather by the director; a soundtrack spot; and the trailer. Do not approach without masculine self-pity. (Warner)