DISCLAIMER: Ed Harris is featured prominently on the cover and in the DVD menu and is given top billing on the poster but only features for one mostly meaningless scene.
Three childhood friends, Mark (John C. Mcginley), Billy (D.B. Sweeney) and Jason (Paul Hipp), have come to realise that their best days may be behind them. When the chance to attend a much-hyped college championship football game arises the trio take off to get away from their problems and enjoy life again. When things begin to fall to pieces on the trip, the three men discover what it is they need to be happy.
Mark seems to be the central character, his story is much more fleshed out. We are shown a strained relationship with his father, his gambling addiction and the depression of former college football glory ending in an ordinary life. Billy is created in a similar vein, a former local rock musician who has settled for a marriage, a job and playing his crappy acoustic songs for his unenthusiastic colleagues.
Both have some depth to their lives, tension in their private lives that drive them to the road. Jason, however, is a creepy/loner character who tries to hit on women by offering his staff discount on office supplies. All we are really told about Jason is that he has trouble finding a suitable partner and that is mother is annoying to his friends.
Once the road trip begins the trio begin to discuss things that men talk about : Dire Straits, the best place they’ve each urinated and whether it would be better to be without sight or penis. The assumed effect is one of naturalistic dialogue between male friends but instead it becomes forgettable filler on their trip. The three men become increasingly disillusioned with their lives and decide to fake their deaths, spurred by Mark’s desire to provide for his family using his life insurance. Apparently free of responsibility the trio begin to unravel as they take swipes at each other and extremely quickly part company.
The film’s dialogue isn’t a great success, it’s naturalistic attempts ultimately fail to sound like real conversations. If the movie struggles to accurately represent male relationships then it misses entirely in any attempt to portray women. We have the wives: one is long suffering but ultimately forgiving; the other cheats on her husband and seems to show no remorse. So far so cliched and the rest of the female cast don’t fare much better: a stripper, trashy college students and Hooter’s waitresses. Not a single complicated female character in the script, all the women in this film exist as plot devices, to drive the male characters onwards.
Along side the slight air of misogyny one instant of jarring racism ( an asian shop assistant is called “Abdul”, isn’t called Abdul and is credited as “not Abdul”), the casual attitude shown towards driving under the influence and Jason’s leery early attempt at attracting a woman into his life give the film a nasty edge that makes it difficult to sympathise with the characters.If this is what it means to be a man then I am certain that I’d rather avoid it.
An apparent passion project for actor, writer and director D.B Sweeney, Life’s A Trip attempts to hit on some universal truths but for me it felt bland, boring. It is a comedy that failed to make me laugh. There’s a good chance that I’m beyond the target audience for this film, middle aged American men may find much more to relate to, but a good film is able to transcend demographics and that is something this film is simply unable to do.
Director : D.B. Sweeney
Certificate : 15
Extras : Trailer