The Next Great Road Trip Film

Bruce Von Stiers

There have been a lot of road trip films over time. Some have been good, others not so much. The films been dramatic or comedic, something in-between, action packed or even sometimes done as horror.

One of the best road trip films that I've seen in recent years is Pooling To Paradise. This is a film that was recently completed and is now being shown at various film festivals.

Fox Meadow Films and Safier Entertainment are the production companies who were involved in the film. The producers for the film included Angela Pedraza, Jared Safier, Linda Evans, Nina Warren and Leslie Cimino. The film was directed by Roxy Shih. The cinematographer was Jih-E-Peng. The screenplay was written by Caytha Jentis, who also helped produce the film.

The film is a comedy, with some dramatic moments and a touch of romance thrown in. The IMDB listing for the film calls it an indie comedy. And the tagline that promotes the film is “Life's a trip.” It has a play time of an hour and twenty minutes.

The central characters in the film are four strangers, younger millennial types. Each of them have reached a point in their lives where they need a change. Suddenly being thrown together, they find that life can be so much more than it is.

The film opens as Jenny is taking a social media photo of a kale drink setting on her back patio. She's waiting for a ride assist to take her to LAX. It seems that Jenny is going away for a weekend conference in Las Vegas, which her husband says is really a girl's weekend away. Jenny is a “mommy blogger”, who blogs about family stuff, healthy living and the usual suburban stuff. We later learn that at one time, Jenny was an Emmy winning news journalist.

Jenny's ride driver is Marc. He seems really cool and laid back. Jenny is concerned about the route they're taking to the airport when Marc informs her that he's picking up another passenger. Apparently Jenny hadn't realized that on the ride app she'd selected the pool option instead of the single rider one.

They pick up Kara, a sometime actor who's going to an actor's boot camp in Venice. Then the last passenger that Marc picks up is Sean in North Hollywood, who is going to Culver City. Then when Sean reveals that he must get to Paradise, Nevada, the whole ride share get turned upside down.

Sean must get Dawn back, the girl of his dreams who dumped him and went back home to Paradise. There is some pretty cool animation that details the couple's relationship and subsequent breakup. Sean gives what cash he has to Marc to drive to Paradise. Jenny kicks in some money too and Kara is along for the ride.

Jenny is portrayed by Lynn Chen. Besides voicing a couple of Call of Duty games, Lynn has been seen in shows such as Shameless and in feature film such as Dying To Kill. Jordan Carlos is Marc. His credits include appearing and writing for the show The First Wives Club and writing for The Drew Barrymore Show. Jordan is also a stand-up comedian. Dreama Walker is Kara. I remember first seeing Dreama in a recurring role in The Good Wife. She also had roles in Brockmire and Doubt along with films such as Paperback. His first major role was the little boy in Jerry Maguire, but Jonathan Lipincki has had been in a whole bunch of things since then, ranging from Dawson's Creek to The Resident. Jonathan plays Sean in this film. A couple of other actors who have minor roles in the film are Peter White and Taryn Manning. Peter has been seen in a whole bunch of television shows including Supergirl, Code Black and The Rookie. You might know Taryn from Orange Is The New Black or Hawaii Five-O. But Taryn has also acted in a lot of feature films.

Even though there was some character development before the destination change, things get more interesting as the trip goes along. All three of the passengers have difficulties their lives that come spilling out in conversations with each other. And, of course, Marc is a tad bit different himself.

Stops along the journey to Paradise include a café, a tourist trap gas station with all kinds of trinkets and a sort of stoned side trip through Death Valley National Park. A wanderer's paradise, if you will.

The film has a lot of great songs in it from groups like Nikkfurie and Angel Tears. I had mentioned the animation earlier. It was handled by Fletcher Del Vecchio.

The self-awareness that comes from the interactions brings forth the knowledge that paradise is really not a location but is all about human connections.

I've always enjoyed road trip films. From the Bob Hope / Bing Crosby road trip classics to National Lampoon's Vacation to my all-time favorite, The Blues Brothers, there have been many great films dealing with road trips. Pooling To Paradise has now a place in my list of favorite road trip films.

The acting is solid with each character's quirkiness adding depth to the story without being too much. The story is fun, yet provides some semblance of angst as Jenny, Kara and Sean try to navigate their feelings, the life crossroads they seem to be at and how to move forward.

Apparently I'm not the only one who really likes Pooling To Paradise. The film won Best Feature award at the recent Fort Meyers Film Festival. It was also shown at the 2020 Santa Monica International Film Festival.

Pooling To Paradise will be officially released later this year.

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© 2021 Bruce E Von Stiers