Do you just want to kick back and get weird with the Zouks? Then, you’ll want to check out The Long Dumb Road, a road trip movie that lets the bombastic comedian embrace his bonkers side.
Co-written and directed by Hannah Fidell, The Long Dumb Road toured the festival circuit back in 2018 before an inauspicious theatrical run that fall. So, even if you love Jason Mantzoukas like we do, you may well have missed it. Good news: it’s now on Netflix. So, let’s catch up on exactly what we missed.
Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel) stars as Nathan, an aspiring photographer from a comfortable upper-middle-class background, who is setting forth on a South Western road trip to his freshman year at an art college in California. There’s just one problem. Not long after he’s left the protective arms of his parents, his car breaks down. Then fate intervenes. While walking toward a mechanic shop, he runs into Richard (Jason Mantzoukas), who is mid-tirade, popping off about how he’s glad he’s fired. (Those other guys were dum-dums anyway.) This wild-haired stranger agrees to fix Nathan’s ride, in exchange for a lift to Las Vegas. Along the way, they’ll quest for love, sex, salvation, and vengeance, coming up against a cavalcade of quirky characters.
The script by Fidell and Carson D. Mell is a bit predictable. As soon as any setup surfaces, you’ll likely know exactly where it’ll end up. Still, there’s a refreshing irreverence to the pair’s comedy, which gleefully makes jokes about death, armed robbery, and the proper etiquette for walking in on cunnilingus. Bringing bursts of energy to The Long Dumb Road is a supporting cast that boasts Happy Endings’ Casey Wilson, Taissa Farmiga, Grace Gummer, Ron Livingston, and Kindgarten Cop’s Pamela Reed. Amid all this wackiness, it’s up to Revolori to ground the central story about a young man seeking adventure and—in a sense—the “real” America he was denied in cozy suburbia.
Since his debut, Revolori has always had an enchanting openness that invites us into his character’s perspective with a welcoming wink. He does well navigating the emotional journey within this deranged comedy, but often takes a backseat to the Zouks show. Through a slew of looping and loopy conversations, the two have a solid chemistry, where Revolori seems game for whatever comes from his crackling onscreen companion. Still, they’re less a comedy duo, more a showman and a sidekick.
From his first moment onscreen, Mantzoukas cranks his signature schtick up to a yelly 11. His eyes glint with madness as he points his thick beard toward the future. Throughout their journey, Richard drops f-bombs with abandon, offers outrageous plans with a jolting casualness, emotional honesty that borders on abrasive, and a sprinkling of “dum-dum” declarations. It feels so true to Mantzoukas’s brand of gleefully dirtbag characters that you might wonder if he’s going off-script to improvise or if Fidell and Mell wrote Richard with him in mind. Either way, Mantzoukas elevates a charming but mediocre road trip comedy with a thin plot into something special by just going full tilt.
There are some touching turns along the way, some raucous road bumps, and lots of laughs. However, the best part of The Long Dumb Road is that it offers Mantzoukas a lead role that gives audiences undiluted access to his loose canon stylings. You’re invited on the ride of a lifetime without the risk of spinning out. So, get in and buckle up. Sh*t’s gonna get weird.
*ICYMI: Is less In Case You Missed It and more OK We Missed It. Here we’ll rave about great movies we missed on their initial release that are now available on streaming, digital, etc.
The Long Dumb Road is now on Netflix.
Header Image Source: Universal Pictures