Thursday, July 18, 2024

“SACRAMENTO”

THE STORY – Flighty and unpredictable Ricky is kicked out of his convalescent home following the death of his father and surprises his best friend, Glenn, by forcing him on a road trip across California. Unbeknownst to him, Glenn is about to start a family with his wife Rosie and is sick of Ricky’s inability to grow out of their past shenanigans. In the worn yellow seats of Glenn’s old college car, the two men reckon with the mistakes of their past and the questions lurking in their future.

THE CAST Michael Angarano, Michael Cera, Maya Erskine, Kristen Stewart, A.J. Mendez & Iman Karram

THE TEAMMichael Angarano (Director/Writer) & Chris Smith (Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 84 Minutes


Everyone can agree that maintaining friendships as we get older becomes more and more strenuous. Sure, it takes work to preserve any important relationship in your life, but it’s different when it comes to your childhood best friends. They ride a fine line between being more important than an acquaintance but not quite a partner. To a degree, they do become family. Things happen in life: you move cross-country, get married, and start families. Life itself takes plenty out of you, especially when you’re ready to head in the opposite direction from your friends. It feels as if Michael Angarano’s real-life experiences with these types of relationships have bled in more than one way into his sophomore feature, “Sacramento.” Angarano’s attempt at the road-trip dramedy makes familiar pit stops along the way, but it truly gets better and better the more miles it gets under its belt.

In “Sacramento,” Angarano (who co-wrote and directed the film) stars as Rickey, a down-on-his-luck man-child who has become a resident of a psychiatric facility unable to leave after his father’s passing. Now that Rickey is being forced to move on from this stage of life, instead of moving forward, he goes back to Los Angeles to make up for lost time with his old friend Glenn (Michael Cera). Meanwhile, Glenn is in a completely different phase of his life, as he is trapped in an aggressively panic-stricken rut. He’s expecting a child with his wife, Rose (Kristen Stewart), who is on the verge of unemployment and is doing his best not to further burden Rosie. Rickey’s surprise appearance not only spirals Glenn even further but also leads to an impromptu road trip to Sacramento, where the pair reevaluate themselves, their relationship, and who they want to become moving forward.

“Sacramento” sounds exactly what you’d think it is, playing out structurally on paper as the typical road-trip dramedy. Cera and Aragano are perfectly paired together. Angarano taps into a charming yet pushy persona emanating from the familiar energy of that guy we all know who never really mentally moved on from high school. Cera becomes the perfect counterbalance, instilling a manic energy that slowly crackles at the seams with visible frustration that only worsens. Glenn desperately wants to move on, especially from this friendship, but he also feels pulled into a sweet comfortability only Rickey can give him. It’s enjoyable for audiences to watch this duo’s dynamic evolve throughout the film and to see how they are at their best when they’re with one another. Despite having a well-rounded quartet of stars, Maya Erskine, who briefly appears in the film as Tallie, is great but reserved more for the film’s last act. The same can be said about Stewart; while she’s fantastic (mainly Cera), she doesn’t have enough screen time to make a major impact besides showing off her pitch-perfect comedic timing.

Like the story itself, the comedy of “Sacramento” evolves for the better as it keeps going. The initial setup and character introductions are solidly crafted. There’s a certain revelation introduced relatively early into the road trip, and that is when Angarano and Chris Smith’s screenplay starts shifting into a higher gear, even though it hasn’t yet found its footing. It’s not that anything that comes before that isn’t entertaining, but you can feel there’s something the two writers are building towards. Angarano’s direction is well-rounded, attempting to give the indie dramedy some sort of cinematic panache. As driving becomes a larger aspect of the story, Angarano aims to capture the glamorized roads of California with splendor, snapshotting the feeling that trips like these can release. Overall, Ben Mullen’s cinematography is far better than a film like this ever needed it to be.

It isn’t until a well-choreographed wrestling montage involving Angarano and Cera happens that “Sacramento” evolves into the film it should have been all along. It attains an emotional sensibility that it has been juggling since the film started. In terms of visual construction, set-up, and delivery by the actors, the gags appear entirely in sync. All of it coalesces into a shockingly nutty sequence in the third act that not only feels out of left field in the right ways but also leads to some of the best moments of the entire film. As “Sacramento” starts wrapping up, certain aspects of key relationships feel a bit left in the air. It ties itself up maybe too neatly for a film aiming to be somewhat more intricate in exploring the unique bonds of male friendships and the safe space they can create to release their suppressed emotions. Yet, the few rough patches in “Sacramento” can’t hold back Angarano’s touching film from doing what it set out first: to do more than entertain audiences and deliver some great laughs.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - Michael Angarano and Michael Cera perfectly play off one another, as they and the rest of the cast elicit plenty of laughs with Angarano’s more-than-capable direction and screenplay.

THE BAD - There are lulls in Angarano and Chris Smith’s screenplay and fuzzy resolutions to certain character dynamics that hold back the road trip dramedy from fully hitting its stride for the entire film.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 7/10

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Giovanni Lago
Giovanni Lago
Devoted believer in all things cinema and television. Awards Season obsessive and aspiring filmmaker.

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Latest Reviews

<b>THE GOOD - </b>Michael Angarano and Michael Cera perfectly play off one another, as they and the rest of the cast elicit plenty of laughs with Angarano’s more-than-capable direction and screenplay.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>There are lulls in Angarano and Chris Smith’s screenplay and fuzzy resolutions to certain character dynamics that hold back the road trip dramedy from fully hitting its stride for the entire film.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>7/10<br><br>"SACRAMENTO"