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Search for the Worst Movie Ever: Joe Carnahan’s 'Stretch'

By Cinesnark | Film | October 15, 2014 |

By Cinesnark | Film | October 15, 2014 |

Have you ever been to a multi-day music festival and/or Burning Man, and lived in temporary squalor in a motel room/RV/tent city, taken sink showers, subsisting on graham crackers and Gatorade, and gobbling whatever questionable substances were shoved in your face?

Have you ever been in a car accident that wasn’t your fault but the other person got hurt worse, so you end up feeling guilty about the whole thing?

Have you ever been to Florida? And not the Disney or Miami parts, but the Florida parts of Florida?

Have you ever been to a sex club? I don’t mean a strip club or the Bunny Ranch, but an actual, call-me-Mistress-Kathleen sex club?

If you said yes to any of those things, then congratulations, you know what it’s like to watch Stretch, the movie for which Joe Carnahan promised to personally pay back anyone who didn’t like it. While I don’t want my money back—the movie didn’t make me want to gouge out my eyeballs or anything—I do kind of want a shower. Stretch is dirty and sleazy and sticky—if it’s possible for a movie to be sticky, then this one definitely is. It’s a preposterous, posturing, would-be alpha-male fantasy rinsed in the neon backwash of a Los Angeles night. It’s like Drive crossed with The Last Action Hero.

Stretch follows “Stretch,” a failed actor turned limo driver whose life sucks every bit as much as “failed actor turned limo driver” seems. Stretch narrates the movie, often telling us precisely what he’s thinking and feeling even though we can easily infer these things for ourselves. There’s no subtlety in Stretch, but Carnahan is a fine purveyor of glossy popcorn trash, so the narration works for the most part. He’s deliberately aping a certain type of movie, the kind of high-octane crap that fuels the sorts of male fantasies depicted in the movie (car chases, surviving tense stand-offs, getting revenge on the woman who broke your heart, fist-fights, igniting giant fireballs).

It helps that Stretch is played by living Ken doll Patrick Wilson. Blandly handsome and only kind of charming, it’s impossible to be offended by Wilson’s utterly vanilla screen presence. In other hands, Stretch would have been an unpleasant asshole, but thanks to Wilson he’s a kind of likeable loser. James Badge Dale, Ed Helms, and Jessica Alba (wearing oversized glasses to blend in with the normals) also star, but it’s Chris Pine as a barely-recognizable, coked-out billionaire asshole who really stands out. Pine and his tape lips—his mouth looks like his lips were hastily taped to his face—usually don’t do much for me, but he’s really enjoyable here.

The first act of Stretch is very in, focusing on the movie industry. There are a lot failed actors, successful actors are all twats, and everyone else is engaged in shady business. It feels like Carnahan is blowing off steam, venting about an industry that isn’t always kind to him. The jokes mostly work and there are some great cameos, but if you’re not really into movies or familiar with the industry, this whole part probably won’t go over well, a problem that plagued Tropic Thunder, too.

Once Carnahan ditches the industry bitching, though, Stretch is bonkers, if a bit unpleasant at times, but it’s always entertaining. It’s messy as fuck for sure, but it’s watchable. If you have participated in any of the events listed at the beginning and enjoyed it, you’ll like Stretch. For the record, I wanted to review Dracula Untold, but TK took it so I got Stretch instead. I DEFINITELY got the better end of the deal.

Cinesnark also writes reviews for her own outlet. You can follow her on Twitter.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.