Home. It’s always there for you. Even if you don’t want it to be.
After the tragic death of his grandmother, Peter Latang (Jesse Wakeman) has to do something he hasn’t been wanting to do for quite some time: Return home. While he wants it to be a quick, painless and relatively carefree visit, where he can hopefully gather up all of this things and move on, it turns out that he lost his wallet, and therefore, doesn’t have any money to do, well, anything. Nor does he have his ID. So yeah, basically, he’s stranded and lost in his hometown and wants to desperately get out, as soon as possible. The only way he can do that, however, is reconnecting with long lost friends, including his oldest, Donald Treebeck (Kris Avedisian). And although Peter just wants a ride from Donald, so that he can be back on his merry way, Donald can’t get enough of seeing his old pal and uses this as the sole opportunity for them to hang out like old bros again and reconnect as if the old days never went away. Problem is, they did; Peter knows this, but Donald, doesn’t.
Why not brawl it out? Who needs to talk?!?
We’ve seen a lot of movies like Donald Cried, where an uptight, almost straight-laced character returns to their old hometown that they’ve grown to hate and detest, sees their old friends, families, and remember why they loved it so much in the first place. And hell, if that’s not familiar enough for ya, then the one character’s old pal is also the most conventional, “hasn’t-grown-since-high-school-character” ever, with the title-Donald being, for lack of a better word, almost a cartoon. He’s got awful hair, wide-rimmed glasses, scruffy facial-hair, an annoying Boston-accent, silly tattoos, horrible clothes, and oh yeah, still lives with his parents. Not to mention the dude talks about the old days ad nauseam, whenever he’s not drinking, smoking, or getting into random fights.
So yeah, he’s basically a cartoon, but he’s one that each and every one of us have in our lives.
And that’s why Donald Cried is actually a bit of a surprise – it deals with the formula, the conventions, and the types of this kind of story, with these kinds of characters, finds some honesty, finds some heart, and yeah, even finds some laughs among all of the sadness and nostalgia. It’s the kind of movie that you’ve seen done a million times before and will continue to get, but for some reason, it’s still so relatable and heart-breaking that, hey, it kind of works. It’s not going to change your life, by any means, but offers a small, relatively sweet look at everyday, normal lives.
As silly as those lives can be.
Ugh. Just too much life for me.
But it’s writer/director Kris Avedisian’s talent that makes Donald Cried so good, because just when we think the story is going to go somewhere we’ve seen before, he finds a way to turn it around and show us something new. Take, for example, Donald himself; he’s loud, rude, and totally stupid, and exactly the kind of character you’d expect Danny McBride to play and pull-off so well. And while there’s a great deal of him that feels obvious and formulaic, Avedisian writes him in such a manner that shows him as a bit of an embarrassment, but also as a guy who just wants to relive the glory days and be somewhat happy, once again, especially with his good buddy.
See, there’s not just heart there, but also a rash bit of honesty that makes him connect so much more. And yeah, Avedisian is pretty great in the role, too, finding enough pathos to get past the inherent goofiness that can sometimes plague these characters from keeping themselves fresh and fun. It also helps that he’s got solid chemistry with Jesse Wakeman who, as Peter, could have been a boring stiff, but actually shows some light as a guy who may not miss his childhood, or those involved with it, but doesn’t mind having some fun in it, for the time being. Together, they feel like good buddies who have a lot of memories and know that time has passed both of them by and while one of them accepts it, and the other doesn’t, they can both accept the fact that, yes, they’ll always be childhood friends.
And honestly, what’s more important?
Consensus: Even if it is still a conventional tale of nostalgia and coming-of-age, so to speak, Donald Cried still has honest bits of heart, humor and pathos to make it all fresh enough to work and slightly different.
7.5 / 10
“Drink some Old E’s with me, bro!” Do it!”
Photos Courtesy of: IndieWire, Twitter, Critics Round Up