Rental Pick: Don’t Make Me Go (2022)

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I’m always intrigued by father/daughter relationship stories as I grew up without a dad. This one is especially interesting as it stars John Cho in a rare but welcomed leading role as a single dad named Max who learns he has a fatal brain tumor. Despite the downbeat premise though, this road-trip drama written by Vera Herbert and directed by Hannah Marks is not a somber affair. In fact, it’s surprisingly engaging and moving as Max bonds with his capricious teenage daughter Wally, played by newcomer Mia Isaac.

Max withholds the fact that he’s dying when he makes Wally go with him to his 20-year college reunion. She agrees only when he promises to teach her how to drive along the way. Convinced he hasn’t much time left, Max not only wants to spend more quality time with Wally, but he also wants her to finally meet the mom who had left them.

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Wally is a typical teen with a rebellious streak and Max is an imperfect dad who doesn’t always make the best choices. The two often butt heads as they drive from California to New Orleans. The two actors have a good chemistry that’s believable and captivating to watch as Max and Wally learn about and open up emotionally with each other. There’s an earnest quality to the relations depicted in the film, it’s not mawkish nor emotionally manipulative. Even Max’s relationship with his girlfriend Annie (Kaya Scodelario) rings true and is peppered with humor.

Cho is such a casually charismatic actor so it’s great to see him in a leading role that shows his dramatic and comic side. Isaac is phenomenal in her debut feature, and the talented Chinese-Jamaican actress definitely has star quality. New Zealand-born actor Jemaine Clement had a small but memorable supporting role as one of Max’s former college mates.

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Filming took place in New Zealand, where Cho was filming his now-canceled Netflix series Cowboy Bebop. The country doubled for the American Southwest during the road trip. I wouldn’t call this a tearjerker though there are obviously moments that made me cry. The ending throws a curveball I did not see coming, which I think is quite rare for a drama.

This is Hannah Mark’s third feature film and I’m quite impressed with her directing efforts. I do think the movie has some pacing issues and its running could’ve been trimmed down slightly. Overall this film is much better than I expected, thanks to the solid script, capable direction, and excellent performances of the two leads. 

3.5/5 Reels


Don’t Make Me Go is now streaming on Amazon Prime


Have you seen Don’t Make Me Go? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

3 thoughts on “Rental Pick: Don’t Make Me Go (2022)

  1. Pingback: Don’t Make Me Go (2022) – FLIXCHATTER FILM BLOG – Ykine

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